I no longer, for almost about a year and half now, have been able to jive with the belief that the majority of Humanity (past, present, and future) has the honor of being the fried inhabitants of a fiery red, crispy orange, and smokey black place of eternal separation, damnation, and burning from God called hell. I call mainstream Christianity’s bull on this doctrine and raise them multiple questions.
Before I continue, however, I think it only fair that I provide for you as much context from my background as possible so you know that my change in thinking has been an ongoing journey of unlearning, learning, and relearning. I learned God created this one guy named Adam. Following that, God thought it was perfect for Adam to have a helper so He put that dude into a very deep sleep, took a rib from him, and created his boo thang, Eve. Eve is later tricked by this serpent animal thingy into eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil–the very tree God told Adam not to eat from–saying that it would grant her something she already possessed–being like God. Adam, seeing Eve partake of both the fruit and the serpent’s lie, follows suit and eats of the fruit as well. At this point , because of Adam’s disobedience specifically, him and his woman are punished. Not only that, but his mistake freaking ruined it for all of Humanity and paved the way for everyone of us to be born into this world rotten, impure, sinful, and predestined a vessel of wrath, fire, and brimstone.
Thanks Adam. Just thanks.
Don’t worry it gets worse from here. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a little disturbing news to help lighten up their day am I right? Now that you were born into a fallen world via Adam’s mistake, it is all up to you to escape this amplified Bunsen burner of toastiness and the Mastermind behind creating it. But wait, there’s more! Paradoxically, you are told you must submit or give your life to Him because it’s the least you can do for Him sending His Son to die in your place, though you undoubtedly and initially deserved it.
If you so choose to give your life to God, which is basically your way of purchasing your Salvation that Jesus died for, you must maintain it on your own lest you be sent to hell by the very God you just gave your life to. Now, there are myriad Christian disciplines that must be kept in one way or another that are some of the most obvious signs of spirituality and spiritual growth. It is already a given that you must attend church services majority of the Sundays in your life; you get a few of them off like unused excused school absences or vacations days from work. And you probably won’t be able to stop there because there are also Bible Studies, Life Group get-togethers, and other church events that take place during the weekday and weekend.
Reading the Bible and praying every single day, even if that means getting at least one Bible verse or five solid minutes of quiet time in, is a clear sign that shows God you are not only serious about the Christian life but serious about not going to hell. Eventually, you are expected to progressively increase your reading frequency and prayer length, which is another nice way of seeing one is growing in the faith. And don’t forget the amazing practice of fasting! The more food and fun you substitute for prayer and Bible reading, the better your chances for slipping on into those Pearly Whites and away from those Grimy Blacks.
I say much of this in a very light and fluffy tone because I used to believe the absurdity that one’s eternal destiny was always based off of what s/he did (going to church, repenting, asking for forgiveness) or didn’t do (i.e., sin, say cuss words, think going to church was boring). Simply said, performance would be the determining factor that separated those who made God’s All-Star dream team from those who didn’t quite make the cut because of their God-geared deficiencies, not Jesus
Regardless of the silly way in which I presented the aforementioned information, somehow I was brainwashed into believing that this was the love of God. The greatest way God could show me how much He loved me was by sending His Son to die for me and presenting me with the option to accept this Salvation, though making the wrong choice would cost me an eternity’s worth of literal flames, torment, and abuse. I seriously believed that God was so loving enough, that He didn’t decide to stay impatient with me, take me out when He could’ve, and drop me in my predestined fate of hot dancing embers.
This was Good Love. Divine Love. Justice and Mercy at it’s finest.
Yet, after hearing the pure message of the Gospel over a year ago, that hell seemed and sounded illogical, arbitrary, stupid more and more. Not only that, but many of the questions I had entertained from time to time about the doctrine of hell or desired to ask even before hearing the Gospel, continued to get swept under the rug of my own fear. I couldn’t stomach much of the whole hell thing, but I slowly began to let the venomous toxins of this doctrine permeate my mind and life. Not only was I believing this damnable garbage and preaching this damnable garbage, I was also gloating in my Salvation as one on his way to heaven while all those other poor, non-God-fearing sinners and hypocritical, lukewarm Christians were quickly on their way to hell.
One Sunday morning at church, I remember hearing a message being taught from the perspective of getting your life right and if you don’t, screamed with complete religious conviction and assurance from across the pulpit, I heard “You are going to hell!!” Followed by amens, claps and hallelujahs, I sadistically smiled an actual smile and nodded my head with utter approval, and I blindly believed one of the most atrocious and heartwrenchingly untrue declarations proclaimed and held by a vast majority of Christianity as the heart of my Daddy.
The amazing, loving, kindhearted, and tender caring Father Jesus revealed and I have come to know, talk to, be embraced by, and adore looks nothing like that fickle prick that I was hearing about. As a result, I look at that painted hell doctrine and say, “Ha!”
At this point, I can really care less which Bible verses one darts my way, how many Bible verses one darts my way, and who, regardless of their religious, theological, and academic credentials, darts Bible verses my way. I will remain unmoved and boldly grounded in my Dad’s unconditional love and goodness so clearly revealed in the life and deeds of Jesus
Think about it, using the widely accepted view of hell. You’re in heaven, for example, having a freaking blast with everyone else who managed to make it with you while you get to live forever knowing that there are billions on top of billions of people ceaselessly burning moment by moment, nonstop. They don’t get water; they don’t get air; they don’t get help. Only pain. They are forever screaming because of the agonizing torment from the hottest flames that any man has ever or could ever experience. The oven is cranked all the way up, surpassing the temperatures of the Sun’s most fieriest solar flares. Hell probably makes the a visit on the Sun sound like a long happy walk on the beach. While you are laughing it up, they are burning and not dying, feeling each and every piercing sensation while God doesn’t do a damn thing about it because “they chose hell” instead of serving Him.
Really? For real? Like, really?
How in the hell could any person in heaven just sit back, legs outstretched and shrug his or her shoulders while cloud surfing through rainbows and conclude that that’s how the cookie crumbles, or rather how the fire burns? If we are honest without ourselves and with one another, hell is an eternal, deserved promise of sizzling vendetta for everyone unless they have purchased fire insurance called Salvation. This ‘gospel’ rinks of conditions, releases fumes of fear, and portrays a god that looks more like an enemy than a friend. This ‘gospel’ is unfair and arbitrary. This ‘gospel’ is no Gospel at all. You get no choice to be born but all of a sudden have the decision to control your eternal well-being? There is a lot of something faulty within that line of thinking.
The more I feel the heartbeat of God and see His adoration for His most prized possession, His redeemed image, His kids, hell sounds unsurprisingly idiotic! To hell with hell. It’s hell enough for people trying to please a God that already worships them or jump through religious hoops for a God that never stopped noticing them. It’s hell enough for people that don’t have food on to eat, protective clothes to wear, or a stable place to call home. It’s hell enough wanting to be yourself around the very people that love you only when you are conforming to their manipulative, abusive ways only to make them happy.
I have zero regret for knocking the doctrine of hell. And this has nothing to do with cherry-picking the Bible to make it more palatable to “tickling my ears.” This has to all to do with Jesus. Love. Joy. Peace. Kindness. Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. Adoration. Truth. The Gospel! Things hell neglects altogether. I continue to taste and see that the Lord is so damn good! He’s scrumptious. He’s sweeter than the most chocolaty chocolate chip cookie with a side of ice cream I’ve ever had. Multiplied by infinity. By another infinity. And then another! If that was God’s best eternal plan before creating Humanity, if that was the best thought He could possibly conjure, then I wouldn’t hesitate to turn my back on Him.
Dad doesn’t need to threaten you with Him so He can get you to worship Him and boost up His confidence meter. He doesn’t need to present you with a large deep fryer as a final ultimatum to get you to live holy and righteously. And He doesn’t need to use any sort of subterfuge in hope you love Him back. He is not only confident in His love for you but He is fully confident in you!
Be free from that bondage, that voice, that fear that claims God is or has been out to get you if you don’t do what He says. He is so much better than we can all imagine. Get some sleep. Take a deep breath. For goodness sake, laugh and enjoy this amazing life.
That fire and brimstone hell stuff is stupid.
Daddy loves you, I promise!