Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

A Sincere Question For My Friends Who Believe In Hell

 

Here on the blog and That God Show, we’ve talked quite a bit about the concept of hell and have gone in-depth as to why I believe hell is not a biblical teaching.

Yet, even using scripture as the foundation for a hell-free eschatological and theological viewpoint, many Christians are completely unwilling to reconsider their views on hell in light of what the Bible teaches. Why this is the case, I have no idea. One would think that folks would flock to the opportunity to let go of hell, but apparently the traditional doctrine on hell is a beloved doctrine of many Christians.

The traditional view on hell, as we all know, is something called Eternal Conscious Torment. This view holds that those who die without being justified in Christ will go to a literal place called hell where they will be tortured by fire day and night, forever. It’ll be, as the doctrine goes, a place where you live with the Devil and his angels, where the fire never stops burning you, and where there is no relief from the pain– ever. You don’t fall asleep, you don’t die, you don’t briefly lose consciousness from the pain. In this version of hell you will be tortured day and night for all of eternity– billions and billions of years on top of billions and billions of years, without end. (All while being forced to listen to Country music.)

My interaction with Christians who believe this has led me to a question. An important question. A question I ask in all sincerity as the first installment of my new series, Sincere Questions.

 If you believe in the traditional view of hell, I’d ask you to consider this question:

Which one of your children would you be willing to torture with fire?

If God is altogether wonderful, beautiful, and all-loving, it would follow that everything he does is wonderful, beautiful, and all-loving. Therefore, there must be something wonderful, beautiful, and all-loving about torturing people with fire and preventing them from having any escape from the pain of those flames.

If torture with fire is anything less than wonderful, loving and beautiful, God would be less than wonderful, loving or beautiful.

So, which one of your children would you be willing to torture with fire as a punishment for not loving you back or misbehaving?

Can you list for me which disobedient acts you would consider worthy of subjecting your child to this kind of torture? Are their certain acts that would prompt you to get out a blowtorchImage-1 and go to town on them? My teenager once told me she hated me and wished I wasn’t her dad, and I have to admit, setting her on fire didn’t cross my mind because I loved her in that moment anyway.

Is there anything your child could do that would cause you to turn them over to ISIS to be punished by burning? That’s an important modern connection, because given the traditional doctrine on hell, the only people I see mimicking this version of God, is ISIS.

Is there anything your child could do that would make you lock them in a dark room, turn up the heat until it burns their flesh, and then gleefully listen to their screams for the rest of their life?

I can’t imagine you would, because that’s both sick and evil. I’ve met a lot of crappy parents in my life, but I’ve never met anyone who would do that to their own child– anyone who would do so would rightly be considered either mentally insane or depraved in an especially disgusting way.

Or, what if God allowed you to sit on his throne and judge your own children– giving you the authority to determine their eternal fate. Do you have any wayward children you’d pick to be sent to hell? Or, would you show them a lavish grace and mercy that flowed from your love for them?

I think I know what you’d do.

So, if we were to assume for a moment that the traditional view of hell were true, that would lead us to another interesting set of questions:

Are you more loving than God? Because you love your children so much you’d never do that.

Are you more merciful than God? I’m assuming you find the image of your own child being eternally tortured by flames to be an unbearable image– one that would leave you crying and screaming for someone to show mercy.

This of course, begs the ultimate question: How could we be more loving and merciful than God?

I don’t think we could– but if hell is real, most of us certainly are more loving and merciful than God. And that right there is a good sign we need to rethink our ideas about hell– because I believe God’s ability to love will dwarf ours any day of the week.

And so this is my question for you, my hell believing friends: which one of your own children would you be willing to subject to torture by fire? If you are too loving and merciful to do that to your own children, why do you believe God is less loving than you are?

I ask in all sincerity that you ponder this, because if you really think it over, the traditional doctrine of hell should lead to some very, very troubling conclusions about God– conclusions that I believe must be strongly rejected.

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Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is a cultural anthropologist, public theologian, writer, speaker, global traveler, and tattoo collector. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell with graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies, and went on to receive his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus. In addition to his blog, Formerly Fundie, his work has been regularly featured by a wide array of media outlets such as TIME magazine and CNN, among others.

BLC

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is a cultural anthropologist, public theologian, writer, speaker, global traveler, and tattoo collector. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell with graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies, and went on to receive his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus. In addition to his blog, Formerly Fundie, his work has been regularly featured by a wide array of media outlets such as TIME magazine and CNN, among others.

Maybe it's not the end of the world...

Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds

But let's be honest-- this is pretty #$@%! close.

Trump's America
&
Franklin Graham's Christianity must be resisted.

Join the fight: Subscribe to new posts and updates from BLC:

It might not be the end of the world...

But let's be honest-- this is pretty #$@%! close.

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  • YouDontKnowSponge says:

    The only hell I believe in is this earth. The biblical teaching is such an abusive teaching and I don’t know how anyone can believe there deceased loved ones could possibly be suffering in hell right now whether they followed Jesus or not. I do believe in life after death and some sort of creator but in my beliefs sin is an illusion created by man to get people to go against homosexuality and your whole religion is a lie to mind control you. It wouldn’t make sense for a responsible and almighty creator to let most of their creations to go to waste and claim they chose to suffer whether they followed him or not. God cannot be called almighty if anyone was recieving eternal torment in their after life.

  • Henry Verdier Jr. says:

    John 8:42-44 New International Version (NIV)
    42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

    NB:
    THE ABOVE IS JUST ONE OF THE MANY ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTION (S)!

    NOT EVERYONE of us walking this earth is a CHILD of God (there are prerequisites to being a child of God; just being a human ISN’T ONE); and you already know the implications that subscribes to.

    But, within your entire article, the most naive aspect is that, you are correlating God’s way of doing things to Man’s way of doing things: (I guess your genius doesn’t understand Isaiah 55:8-9)

    Very funny and ironical !!!

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