Hell is for Christians

You’ve heard of Christian love and Christian charities. You’ve probably even heard of Christian tee shirts and DVDs. But I want to tell you about Christian scandals – or at least one in particular.

Imagine something with me: two men are on trial. Both are guilty of murder.

One was reared in a home where he was beaten daily by his parents. He was born with brain damage due to his mother’s use of alcohol and drugs while she was pregnant. When he tried to gain an education he was denied books and the chance to attend school. When he got old enough to seek a job he could only get the lowest paying, most menial work imaginable. In his entire life he has never had a reason for hope.

The second man was born into wealth. From his earliest years he has had the finest of care, the best teachers, and every advantage that can be had. He has never been abused, hungry or in want of any kind. He attended the finest schools, where he was taught by philosophers and theologians of great wisdom. He was admonished by them to always be humble, to look for the best in others, to seek the good of the community before his own.

Again, both these men are guilty of murder. The poor man stabbed a passerby for his wallet so he could buy drugs. The wealthy one poisoned his business partner so he could gain control of the firm. Each crime was abhorrent. Each was committed in a callous fashion. Each is inexcusable. Neither man has shown remorse.

Of the two, who is more deserving of the maximum punishment allowed by law?

Most persons would agree that the second of the pair should receive the greater penalty, simply because he was shown so much of the noble and fine side of life. And they would be right. Those who have more beauty, intelligence, privilege, power, money, wisdom, opportunity, etc. simply have less of an excuse for screwing up than those who came into this world with the odds stacked against them. Jesus saw things this way, hence his statement “to whom much is given much will be required.” (Luke 12:48)

Christians have been given much in the way of moral wisdom. The man they call their Lord and Savior was a model of compassion. He urged his followers to love others, to return evil with good, to meet brutality with forgiveness, to be harder on themselves than on others. Most of them have read and learned these words all of their lives.

And that is why they are without excuse, when they stir up hatred against Muslims and members of other faith communities. They are without excuse when they lie about President Obama’s place of birth or religious affiliation. They are without excuse when they demonize homosexuals, a people group that Christ never mentioned once.

They are without excuse when they form alliances with politicians who favor the wealthy over the poor, in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus. They are without excuse when they spend vast sums to build giant churches, when Jesus would have used those funds to help the poor.

They are without excuse when they cry “Socialism!” every time the 1% are called upon to pay more, yet never mention the evils or excesses of unrestrained Capitalism.  They are without excuse when they offer excuses for greedy CEOs that chisel away at pay and benefits so they can pocket more cash.

They are without excuse when they have a comfortable home, a full belly and a reliable car, yet claim that they’re not rich.

They are without excuse when they condemn godless atheists like Karl Marx and praise godless atheists like Ayn Rand.  They are without excuse when they look down on self-serving hate merchants on the Left, while cheering on Ann Coulter and
Rush Limbaugh.

They are without excuse when they fear militant homosexuals and not militant homophobes.

They are without excuse when they point the finger at everyone but themselves for the problems of the world. They are without excuse when they blame the media or liberals or Lady Gaga for the decline in church attendance, when in reality it is their own hateful and vindictive spirits that have driven seekers away from Christianity.

They are without excuse when they sing hymns of love during the morning service, and an hour later leave a paltry tip for the waitress who is trying to feed her kids on a tiny income.

They are without excuse when they send pennies to a starving child in Brazil, yet refuse to buy the fair trade coffee that would enable the child’s father to provide for his kids himself.

They are without excuse when they run their businesses for the sake of profit, and not for the good of their customers and employees.  They are without excuse when they don’t offer health insurance to their workers, and when they oppose efforts to make sure that everyone has access to quality medical care.

They are without excuse when they cheer at the news of a man, any man, being killed, and try to justify such sentiments with words from the Bible. They are without excuse when they say that God cares more about a person’s theological views than the condition of their heart.

They are without excuse when they call others false teachers, heretics, or servants of the Devil, when in fact their own twisted, hate-filled hearts make them twice the servants of evil than those they so quickly condemn.

And they are completely, totally without excuse, any whatsoever, when they say that others are destined for eternity in torment, while they are safe because of a prayer they prayed when they were a child. They are without excuse when they think that their intellectual assent to a list of truth claims is anything like the faith that opens the doors of heaven.

And yet even a cursory look at American Evangelical Christianity shows that it is rife with these sorts of evil, hypocritical monsters, who see everyone’s faults but their own, who condemn the world while filling their store houses with its treasures, and who would turn that same world into a nightmare of ignorance and intolerance if given the chance.

They are the ones Jesus spoke of in Luke 12:47-48, when he said that those who know the right thing to do and fail to do it are the ones who will receive the greatest punishment.

And that is why Hell is for Christians.

6 thoughts on “Hell is for Christians

    • Exactly my point. They infect Christianity with their own hatreds, fears, insecurities and egoism. The result is a pseudo-Christianity that is more an expression of their personality and character flaws than of the teachings of Jesus.

  1. So have you considered what Isaiah 33 says about those who walk among the “everlasting burnings?” Curious what your take on that is. Apparently, the wicked are terrified, but those who walk among them are the righteous. This seems to go along with the verses that say God is a consuming fire to sin. Maybe His fire is safe if we are in harmony with His love.

    P.S. I hope you don’t mind me posting so much, I’ve shared your blog with my husband because your blog is the first I’ve found that seems to have an interest in helping those who have suffered spiritual abuse and a wrong picture of God similar to my own mission (which has changed a few times as I struggled to find my voice.) Whether you agree with my views or not, I hope you keep posting. I have no idea who you are but I think you have something worthwhile to say. Peace.

  2. You can post 10,000 times day if you like and I won’t mind in the slightest. To the contrary, I find it encouraging that my writings can stir up so much thought and feeling in another person.

    Regarding the righteous and wicked being in the same place in eternity, it reminds me of something that is believed by many Eastern Orthodox Christians. They see history as leading to a day when God’s presence is intensely felt through the Universe, as an overwhelming and unending sense of joy, harmony and love that humbles the proud, brings happiness to the sad and frees every living creature from the curse of sin and suffering.

    Who would find such a state of being to be heaven? The poor, the humble, the lowly of spirit, the ones who love and work for peace, equity and well-being for everyone. On the other hand, what would the proud, the greedy, the sadistic, the lovers of money and power think of living in such a place? For them it would be Hell. So the same world is either absolute paradise or endless misery, depending on the heart of the individual.

  3. I just wanted to say that I just ran across this post when I read it as a comment on Amazon.com (saw it under reviews for “The Christian Delusion”), and wanted to comment. And pardon, but it’s gonna be a long one.

    Just for fair disclosure at the outset, I am a Christian, and have been so my whole life. Since my earliest memories, my family has been church-going. I never saw anything wrong with it, even as I got older, like so many others do. Oh sure, as I grew more mature myself, I’d like to think certain of my beliefs also matured.

    It’s hard, though, to say one has truly matured until one’s faith is actually questioned and tested. I didn’t believe that myself until I started dating a girl who identified as an agnostic. She had been burned early in life by a really hard-right church preaching some very narrow doctrines. Also, her mother had been burned by a bad divorce followed immediately by a few natural disasters that had left her in dire straits, and pretty much cursing God directly. So when I started dating this girl, we both knew that at least a small part of my goals for the relationship would be to at least try to convert her to Christianity. I admit it, and she knew it too.

    She even honestly tried hard to believe. She asked me and my father (who is a pastor) hundreds of questions, seeming to have a very deep curiosity about my faith. She even decided to try and make a profession of faith, and as a consequence, much of my family believes she did indeed become a Christian in 2007.

    But ever since then, she has said that as hard as she tries, she just can’t believe, and has even slipped beyond agnostic and has begun to identify as atheist. We also have gotten married. It’s been a rough road at times, a Christian and an atheist married, but it has also done many good things for me.

    You see, I still identify as a Christian, but I would like to think I am a stronger, more mature one now. And a good deal of that is due to having a wife that from time to time will ask me why I believe a certain way, or how I can justify a particular aspect of my faith. And most of these things are topics that I’d never had to face before. I parroted something I heard my Dad or another pastor say from the pulpit, but had never really done my own soul-searching until my wife told me that wasn’t good enough. At first, this was a difficult prospect – after all, if I stopped trying to convert her to my faith, couldn’t she let me be about it? Apparently not, for which I actually am (sometimes grudgingly) grateful.

    Now I have actually been forced to evaluate my positions and formulate my opinions. Some of which I have maintained from early life, just with better justification than “I heard a pastor say it once”. But other issues, I have actually changed my position on, at times pretty drastically.

    I suppose with that detailing of my life story (sorry for the long narrative), to get to the real reason for my comment, I really appreciate this post you have made. While it can sting a bit when it hits too close to home, I see what you are getting at, and it’s a sting that’s necessary, I think. Modern Christians can often resemble the very hypocrites and lazy self-centered bigots that Jesus spent so much time railing against. It’s common for modern pastors to relate stories of Jesus’ denouncements of the sins of the religious leaders (and followers) of the time, but the irony is how He’d probably say the same thing in most churches these days.

    It’s not easy to grow. Physically, it can be very awkward, but spiritually, it is painful. We have to face down our faith and ask questions we may not want to ask. But far from being wrong, I have come to believe it is vital, imperative even, for a Christian to question God and his own faith. I don’t remember anything in the Bible saying it’s wrong to ask questions. Even the famous Doubting Thomas didn’t get a slap across the face from Jesus when he asked for proof. Rather, Jesus gave him the proof he asked for. So yes, I think we MUST question ourselves, because only when we actually think for ourselves can we honestly live without hypocrisy.

    Wow, I feel like I just preached a sermon. XD Sorry for that, but your post really inspired me, as well as served as a catalyst to unleash some things I’ve been wanting to say for a while.

    • You’re in a unique position, being married to someone with such a different belief system than your own. Without knowing more details, I can only offer a couple of comments, which may or may not be of help:

      1. I have found in my discussions with atheists that, as a whole, they equate the idea of God with a particular conception of what He must be like: a distant, cold, judgmental Ass who could fix the world’s problems but doesn’t, who sentences people to eternal torment for never hearing of Him, and who demands absolute control over our lives. I don’t blame them for not believing in that God; I don’t either.

      2. I think all of us are agnostics when it comes down to it. The most devout Christian still harbors some doubts, and even a virulent atheist probably wonders sometimes if there is a Higher Power. For me the salient point is that all of us take leaps of faith, whether we acknowledge it or not. If we drive somewhere, we’re putting faith in our vehicle to get us where we’re going safely. If we get married, we’re placing a huge amount of trust in another person to meet needs in every area of our lives. If we have a child, we’re placing faith in our abilities to raise him or her, as well as in the child’s ability to grow into a decent, worthwhile human being.

      We do these things because they’re part of what it means to be human. They’re choices we make without absolute evidence that things will work out. The child could turn into a serial killer. The marriage partner could empty our bank account and run off with someone else. And the car’s brakes could fail and we could end up impaled on its windshield. But we still make the choice to take those leaps of faith.

      It’s the same with belief in God, Jesus, the Noble Eight-fold Path to Nirvana, or whatever. In a world with no obvious meaning to it, we choose to trust ourselves to something we can’t see, hear, taste, or touch. That’s part of the existential reality of being human. And it’s a choice your wife must ultimately make, one way or the other.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s