CNN discusses Hell, for crying out loud

I can’t believe that this exchange of views—”Different takes: should we abandon idea of hell?“—showed up on the CNN “Belief” blog.  There’s no substance or novelty here. Well, I guess one doesn’t expect so much of that on religion pages, but most of this exchange is is simply hellfire-and-brimstone preaching by a pastor.

First there’s a short take by Frank Schaeffer, a “New York Times bestselling author” and a member of the Orthodox Church. He pushes the view that Christianity is merciful and nonretributive:

What most people don’t know is that there’s another thread running through both Christianity and Islam that is far more merciful than the fundamentalists’ take on salvation, judgment and damnation.

. . . The other equally ancient view, going right back into the New Testament era, is of an all-forgiving God who in the person of Jesus Christ ended the era of scapegoat sacrifice, retribution and punishment forever.

As Jesus said on the cross: “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

That redemptive view holds that far from God being a retributive God seeking justice, God is a merciful father who loves all his children equally. This is the less-known view today because fundamentalists – through televangelists and others – have been so loud and dominant in North American culture.

. . . We need “hell” like a hole in the head. It’s time for the alternative of empathetic merciful religion to be understood.

Yes, you can interpret the Bible either way so long as you ignore the huge swaths of Biblical text that threaten people with hell.  Yes, I do understand the “empathic alternative,” but has Schaeffer considered whether it’s the right one?  Apparently not.

But there’s something far worse, for Schaeffer is countered by Mark Driscoll, described as “founding pastor of Mars Hill Church” (a Christian megachurch) in Seattle, Washington. This is the stuff that shouldn’t be appearing on CNN pages, for it’s just a sermon, one that could have been preached by Jonathan Edwards in 18th century New England.  A taste of Driscoll:

As a pastor, my job is to tell the truth. Your job is to make a decision.

Well, he certainly pulls no punches, and implicitly brands Schaeffer a liar. I’m not sure that I don’t prefer Driscoll’s honesty to Schaeffer’s mealymouthed metaphorizing.  But Driscoll then presents his “truth”:

What does Jesus say about hell?

Jesus was emphatically clear on the subject of hell. He alone has risen from death and knows what awaits us on the other side of this life. A day of judgment is coming when all of us — even you — will rise from our graves and stand before him for eternal sentencing to either worshiping in his kingdom or suffering in his hell.

The Bible could not be clearer: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

These are not just obscure Bible verses. In fact, Jesus talks about hell more than anyone else in Scripture. Amazingly, 13% of his sayings are about hell and judgment, and more than half of his parables relate to the eternal judgment of sinners.

Keep in mind that Jesus’ words come in the context of the rest of Scripture, which says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Furthermore, he “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Given that, it’s amazing that his next line is this:

God is far more loving, kind and patient with his enemies than we are with our enemies.

Really? I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy an eternity of immolation in molten sulfur. (Later in the piece, Driscoll assures us that the Bible teaches that life in Hell is indeed eternal and that there’s no second chance on Judgment Day.)

Driscoll goes on with his sermon, showing us the loophole:

Am I going to hell?

The good news is that the closing verses of the Bible say, “Come!” Everyone is invited to receive the free gift of God’s saving grace in Jesus. Jesus is God become a man to reconcile mankind to God.

He lived the sinless life we have not lived, died a substitutionary death on the cross for our sins. He endured our wrath, rose to conquer our enemies of sin and death, and ascended to heaven where he is ruling as Lord over all today. He did this all in love.

The stark reality is this: either Jesus suffered for your sins to rescue you from hell, or you will suffer for your sins in hell. These are the only two options and you have an eternal decision to make.

My hope and prayer is that you would become a Christian.

Why is this stuff is appearing on CNN? Is this news at all, or even an airing of beliefs that has something novel in it, or reaches a rapprochement? Nope, it’s just pure proselytizing, and won’t enlighten anyone much less make them change their minds.

It amazes me that in the 21st century, Driscoll’s odious and repellent beliefs find their way onto the pages of a supposedly reputable news site.

But remember, 50% of Americans “absolutely believe in hell” and around 70% believe in hell, but not so absolutely.

69 Comments

  1. Posted September 25, 2012 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    Pastor Driscoll said:

    Jesus was emphatically clear on the subject of hell. He alone has risen from death and knows what awaits us on the other side of this life.

    I wonder what Lazarus would have to say about that then? Doesn’t the pastor know his bible stories?

    Or is the raising of Lazarus from the dead, just another “allegorical” tale?

    Cheers,
    Norm.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      Here’s what really happened with that Lazarus guy.

    • brotheryam
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      Not only Lazarus, but these two lesser New Testament resurrections:

      * Luke 7:12-15: Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.

      * Mark 5:22-23, 41-42: And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. … And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was [of the age] of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.

      (http://www.jesus-resurrection.info/bible-resurrections.html)

      • the Siliconopolitan
        Posted September 25, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        Hey. Both Peter and Paul follow the Master in Acts. Though, to be fair, Eutychus perhaps wasn’t all dead.

    • brotheryam
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      Not only Lazarus, but these two lesser New Testament resurrections:

      * Luke 7:12-15: Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.

      * Mark 5:22-23, 41-42: And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. … And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was [of the age] of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.

      (http://www.jesus-resurrection.info/bible-resurrections.html)

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

      Elijah also raised a dead person and Elisha did it twice, once while alive, and once after his own death – contact with his bones did the trick.

      And when Christ arose from the dead, so did the saints in Jerusalem.

      Mr Driscoll is an errant guide to an errant book.

  2. E.A. Blair
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    “As a pastor, my job is to tell the truth. Your job is to make a decision.”

    Compare this to

    “We report, you decide.”

    So Christianity is a spiritual version of Fux News and Mark Driscoll is its Sean Hannity?

  3. andreschuiteman
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 5:16 am | Permalink

    Doesn’t this Driscoll character know that the Bible doesn’t say what it says? He should read more Sophisticated Theology™.

  4. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 5:45 am | Permalink

    … an all-forgiving God who in the person of Jesus Christ ended the era of scapegoat sacrifice, retribution and punishment forever.

    By engaging in an act of human sacrifice. So God ended the era of scapegoatism in the same sense that W kept us out of war.

  5. John K.
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    How do you just ‘give up’ the concept of hell? Is every belief in the bible just a choice?

    Could it be any more obvious that they are just making this stuff up?

    • Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      For me, the Bible is a basic guidebook on how you should conduct your life to be a decent human being. Although, the reader plays as much a role as the book; if they don’t believe in the ideal being passed on personally, it is their obligation to determine what they believe (not what their religion believes) and take what they want from it. If someone wants to or doesn’t want to believe in Hell, that’s their prerogative.

      • brotheryam
        Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

        I like the parts where I can keep sex slaves and kill my enemies and keep their stuff.

      • Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        Except it’s ‘not’ a basic guidebook on anything. Philosophers do a much better job. Even Aesop’s fables do a better job.

        • Christian
          Posted September 25, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          I guess that with the extraordinary interpretive gymnastics they apply to the bible you could get the same out of Mein Kampf as well.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        So I should have multiple wives and stone my children to death when they disobey? Some guidebook.

      • Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        So, out of curiosity, do you think that Jesus has read the Bible?

        Not, of course, “Did Jesus read the Bible during his ministry?” — that would be absurd, since the Gospels weren’t written until much later and it was centuries before the Council of Nicaea canonized the Bible as we know it today.

        Rather, I’m asking if you think that Jesus, presumably sitting at the right hand of the Father, whose job it is to judge the living and the dead — if today’s Jesus has read the Bible.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Posted September 25, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

          So he learnt to read after his ascension? Wonder how long it took.

          • Posted September 25, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

            About two and a half inches, from what I hear….

            b&

        • Stephen P
          Posted September 26, 2012 at 2:16 am | Permalink

          No, the bible wasn’t canonised at Nicaea – that appears to be an Internet myth. It just grew haphazardly. The first list of NT books which matches what subsequently became the canon occurs in the Easter message of Athanasius in the year 367. (42 years after Nicaea.)

          • Filippo
            Posted September 26, 2012 at 3:10 am | Permalink

            “No, the bible wasn’t canonised at Nicaea – that appears to be an Internet myth.”

            If a myth, surely so long before the advent of the Internet.

            So, what did they (claim to) do at Nicaea, simply come up with The Nicene Creed? Has even that been somehow historically verified? I acknowledge my incompetence on this issue. Didn’t they come up with some kind of list, perhaps containing what is nowadays labelled “pseudopigrapha”? Then perhaps later, that was removed, leaving the current 66 books plus what is called the “Apochrypha” (sp.?) accepted by the RC Church but rejected by Protestant types? (Don’t know what the Orthodox types define to be the canon.)

      • raven
        Posted September 25, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

        The bible is a pretty horrible book for that.

        You would do better with The Lord of the Rings.

        And BTW, watch out for magic rings that give you power. They have some undesirable side effects.

  6. Brygida Berse
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    Next on CNN: How many angels can dance on a pinhead? (we report, you decide)

  7. Posted September 25, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Dueling Christians, what fun! Each claims his imaginary friend is the bestest and the rightest! And both cherry pick their magical book in desperate attempts to “prove” it. It’s always the best to watch them damn anyone who dared not to be born at the right time and in the right place to be “saved”.
    Driscoll also does a great job in showing that even extra-special Christians like him have prayers that do nothing since when he “hopes and prays” people will become Christian, it doesn’t happen.

  8. Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    …and people still think that Christianity is a religion of peace, that Jesus is a love god, that the Gospels are warm-and-fuzzy rejections of the horrors of the Old Testament, and that there’s some sort of significant scriptural difference between Christianity and Islam that somehow explains why Muslims use roadside bombs to counter tanks manned by Christians….

    Cheers,

    b&

    • ForCarl
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      This is why I often get more annoyed with the “Jesus is a peace-making social justice kind of guy” promoting liberal Christians than I do with the fundamentalists.

  9. Mike
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Jesus died for our sins.

    So if we don’t sin, doesn’t that mean that He died for nothing?

  10. truthspeaker
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    And yet, if we atheists were to attack Driscoll’s beliefs, you can bet Schaeffer would be among the first to defend them.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:02 am | Permalink

      Not really. Schaeffer has published a book that critiques “gnu” atheists (“Patience with God”) which for all practical purposes falls on the side of theistic-leaning agnosticism and speaks very deferentially of Dan Dennett whom he obviously really admires.

      His worst criticism of Richard Dawkins is that there’s too much of a celebrity cult around him which he thinks has faint echoes of the celebrity cult around tele-evangelists. I would call that praising with faint damnation.

      The book is rambling and diffuse, not really a rigorous argument but fairly respectful of atheists.

      • Filippo
        Posted September 26, 2012 at 3:14 am | Permalink

        “His worst criticism of Richard Dawkins is that there’s too much of a celebrity cult around him . . . .”

        If that is somehow Dawkins’s fault, what would he have Dawkins do about that – wag his finger at his admirers?

        • Posted September 26, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

          ….cut to scene from Life of Brian where Brian (only with Dawkins playing the role) berating his followers: “I’m not the Messiah! Your’e all individuals! You should think for yourselves!!…”

  11. Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    A day of judgment is coming when all of us — even you — will rise from our graves and stand before him for eternal sentencing to either worshiping in his kingdom or suffering in his hell

    Two immediate questions come to mind:
    1) Are you sure those are my only two choices?
    and:
    2) What of those deceased who have been cremated and launched into space? Rising from that grave will be a really neat trick.

    • Posted September 25, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      If Jesus wants a word with my parents, he’s going to have to find all the bits of ash that are scattered across a hillside in England, and another hillside overlooking Lake Superior (and of course the phosphates have probably been taken up by plants already), and figure out which is Mom and which is Dad, and I have no idea what he’s proposing to do about the volatiles that go up the crematory stack….

      Yeah, I know: omnipotence. Won’t use it to stop wars or famines or pandemics, but he’ll go to great lengths to reconstitute all the victims just so he can tell most of them that they’re eternally screwed for failing to kiss the Divine Ass.

  12. David T.
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Hell was one of the final straws which caused me to reject Christianity. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    So basically we can’t come to a knowledge of Jesus unless God draws us in, so for the billion of Hindus, who know as much about Jesus as I do about Brahman well obviously they won’t accept Jesus as their lord and savior. Therefore due to no fault of their own they get a life time in hell?? And this is benevolent? No one who is honest with themselves will think this is fair.

  13. The Stolen Dormouse
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    In George Bernard Shaw’s play-within-a play “Don Juan in Hell”–actually a long act within his play Man and Superman–he suggests that all of the interesting people are in Hell, and Heaven is for the boring. (I was lucky enough to see both plays, though they were put on separately, rather than as a 5-6 hour extravaganza.)

    • Diane G.
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      A paraphrase of the quote often attributed to Twain, tho he no doubt was not the first either, “heaven for the climate, hell for the company.”

      In the process of trying to verify the provenance I ran across this 1908 cartoon from Life magazine. Note the initials:

      • Posted September 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

        Heh. Got #3 in line, don’t know about the rest.

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted September 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

          I’m pretty sure #5 is Robert Ingersoll.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

          I think I know most of them. Isn’t the last one Voltaire? He’s my favorite.

          I also see Ralph Waldo Emerson, PT Barnum, Tom Paine…(& Ingersoll, of course).

          • Diane G.
            Posted September 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

            The BY even looks a lot like portraits of Brigham Young! We no doubt aren’t the first to see the LDS that way… 🙂

        • Pete Taylor
          Posted September 26, 2012 at 2:20 am | Permalink

          I suspect N (1st in line) = Napoleon

        • Pete Taylor
          Posted September 26, 2012 at 2:21 am | Permalink

          Spotted already – should have read further 😦

      • JohnnieCanuck
        Posted September 25, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

        B.F. is likely Ben Franklin.

      • Posted September 25, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

        I see
        Napoleon
        G
        Charles Darwin
        Ralph Waldo Emerson
        Robert Ingersoll
        P T Barnum
        Robert Burns
        Benjamin Franklin
        Brigham Young
        Tom Paine
        Voltaire
        George Sand
        Madame de Pompadour
        B. Ba.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          Oh, I hadn’t even noticed the initials beyond Voltaire! It had finally dawned on me that the N was Napoleon (possibly the best likeness there). Missed Burns completely. So who on earth is G?
          And B. Ba. for that matter.

          • Jim Sweeney
            Posted September 25, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

            G. could be Goethe. He was fairly tall (188 cm).

            • Diane G.
              Posted September 25, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

              Ah, a Google image search reveals that that cartoon figure does look a lot like Goethe. Good thinking!

  14. dunstar
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    lolz. Driscoll also claims he can see the future.

  15. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Frank Schaeffer is an ex-fundamentalist who is now a Greek Orthodox Christian. For all of its authoritarian patriarchy and anti-gay stands, etc., Greek (& Russian and Coptic, etc.) Orthodox churches have never bought into the trope that all non-Christians are going to hell (by default), largely because it has a completely different view of the meaning and significance of Jesus’ death as Western Christianity. (In theology-speak, this is called “theory of the atonement”.)

    The traditional Western view (dominant since the 11th century) is that everyone is damned by default due to descent from Adam and you must strike the right bargain with God, accepting that Jesus paid the price for sin by a substitionary sacrifice on the cross (known as the “satisfaction” theory), a sacrifice made to God. (If you’re not a Christian, God can’t get no satisfaction, or something.)

    However, Eastern Orthodoxy buys into none of this entire framework and believes that Jesus’ death ransomed humans from the devil. This allows the effects of same to spread well beyond the margins(/membrane) of the visible institutional church. Some early Eastern Orthodox believed in universal salvation such as Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335 – c. 395), but that remains controversial. (A local radical Episcopal church here in San Francisco named itself St. Gregory’s for just this reason.) For more on EO thinking on this see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christus_Victor

    My main point is that Schaeffer’s views may sound like a modernist liberal Christian, but they are in fact exactly what quite a few Christians in the 2nd to 4th century believed and pretty much reflect the classical views of the Greek Orthodox church for its entire 2000 year history.

    Schaeffer is also a very valuable critic of the religious right, as he used to be a major player in it until 1990, when he abandoned the movement. In the early 2000s, he jumped ship from Republican and Democrat, and continues to publish valuable critiques of the right wing from the perspective of a former insider.

    • Posted September 25, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      ….to which I would add the footnote: his father Francis Schaeffer wrote a series of books that provided much of the (pseudo-)intellectual foundation for the current theocratic agenda in American evangelicalism. Frank Jr’s Crazy For God is an expose and repudiation of much of what his father stood for.

  16. Jim Thomerson
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I sincerely hope Hell is zoned. I cannot contemplate spending all eternity battered by wailing and lamentations of the millions of PseudoChristians who have done evil in Jesus’ name.

    • JohnnieCanuck
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Consider the possibility that whatever would torture you the worst, that is what you will get.

      You could always try to convince the powers that be that you, e.g., hate cats and nothing could be worse than to be surrounded by them.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted September 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        Please, Lord, punish me any way you like, but don’t condemn me to live in a field of marijuana plants with naked women cavorting through it.

        • Posted September 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

          We’re getting into Br’er Rabbit an’ de bramble bush territory here. Crossed with 1984’s Room 101.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted September 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        I’ve long felt that if there were an afterlife, it would be appropriate for people to get, instead of what they hoped they’d earned, what they feared they deserved.

        The ninth episode in season two of Night Gallery featured a segment with John Astin as a hippie who dies and finds himself in a victorian-style parlor where he learns that this is where he will spend eternity. The other occupants of the room is a couple a la American Gothic who regale Astin and themselves with their vacation slides. The devil explains that for them, this room is heaven, but for Astin, well…

        The camera fades out with Astin beating his head on the floor yelling, “Bummer, bummer, bummer…”

      • Jim Sweeney
        Posted September 25, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

        L’enfer, c’est les autres.

  17. Curt Cameron
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    It’s amazing how Driscoll views God as loving and kind because he won’t make some people go to hell.

    Dan Barker does a good parody of this, where he talks about walking up to someone on the street and telling them:

    “Did you hear the good news? You don’t have to come down to my basement! Isn’t that great? Since you’re such a terrible person, I was going to take you to my basement and torture you, but the good news is, I tortured my son in your place! It’s because I love you! All you have to do now is worship me and accept his sacrifice for you, and you won’t have to be tortured.”

    Now how could anyone get the message that he’s a loving person?

  18. peter
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    “It amazes me that in the 21st century, Driscoll’s odious and repellent beliefs find their way onto the pages of a supposedly reputable news site.”

    Did anyone here, even before this, actually regard CNN as “reputable news site”? Perhaps the secret purpose of FOX News is to trick us into thinking that by comparison.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

      +1

      CNN has never been a reputable news source. It was created as a ratings-generating cable channel using the trappings of news as its programming. I don’t know why so many people seem to think otherwise.

  19. eric
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Everyone is invited to receive the free gift of God’s saving grace in Jesus.

    If its truly free, then I shouldn’t have to worship him, accept him, or make any other type of faith commitment to get it, should I?

    Free salvation would be literally everyone gets it who wants it, no strings attached. Which is a much more merciful theology, but not orthodox Christianity to be sure.

  20. LilburnLowellDecker
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    I have to disagree slightly with Jerry on this one. I’m glad CNN published this because it highlights two traits among biblical apologists. Frank Schaeffer’s attempt to overlook the fact that Hell is an intergral part of Jesus’ teachings is throwing out the baby with the bathwater and claiming there never was a baby, only dirty bathwater. (I read somewhere that Schaeffer had become an atheist but that was obviously not ture.) On the other hand, the “fire and brimstone” preacher is more biblically honest because at least he bases his argument for a literal, eternal Hell on the teachings of Jesus himself. This should demonstrate to all but the muddleheaded that 1) the doctrine of Hell is not only biblical but one of the cornerstones of traditional Christianity and 2) Jesus was not the “great moral teacher” that many non-believers, including some atheists, consider him to be. Of course, to be fair to Jesus, it isn’t clear that he said those things attributed to him in the bible since he wrote nothing and we only have alleged sayings of anonymous authors writing decades after he was traditionally believed to have lived. But if one believes the bible and thinks it includes Jesus’ teachings Hell is the albatross that hangs around the believer’s neck. If they want to abandon Hell, they have to renounce the teachings of Jesus as they are found in the bible. What then becomes of Christianity?

  21. Jim Jones
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Mars Hill Church is notorious in the PNW. It is widely reviled as a cult and mention of its name raises red flags.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/life/faithbased/2012/02/mars_hill_pastor_mark_driscoll_faces_backlash_over_church_discipline_case_.html

  22. gluonspring
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Hell is definitely the most odious of the many odious religious doctrines. Once one accepts the idea of a place of eternal punishment for those who don’t agree with you, all other reasonable moral reasoning goes out the window. There is no atrocity in the finite world we live in now that can not be seen as a justifiable means to the end of keeping people out of an eternal Hell.

  23. Bob Carlson
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    In 2008 Chicago lawyer, Jack Beam, published a tiny tome titled The God Awful Truth About Heaven. In it he points out that the one that claimed to have been there, namely Jesus, had virtually nothing to say about what heaven is like, except that it had a table and many rooms, and there isn’t even the promise of wine until the end of time. He concludes that even the Muslim heaven “…beats hanging around for eternity in the Christian heaven with some cherubs and three old patriarchs…”

  24. Rick Wiedeman
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    This is dodging the issue. The question is not ‘should we make our religion reasonable,’ but ‘should we practice a religion we don’t really believe in?’ Searching for reinterpretations is just an exercise in fear of leaving a familiar faith behind. Either you believe, or you don’t. If you don’t, rather than try to water down Christianity, face facts and become an agnostic or atheist.

  25. alttaawiil
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    what would jesus do?

    burn people in hell for eternity!

  26. E.A. Blair
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    The execrable Conservapedia has this to say about who is going to hell. It is to laugh.

  27. mfdempsey1946
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    There is no heaven, but there is a hell. Its name is Planet Earth.

  28. Vaal
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Don’t you love it when each of the Christian sects proclaim: “The Bible is CLEAR on this…”?

    You’d think they’d look around and, in noticing that the attempt to understand the Bible has resulted in over 30 thousand sects with competing interpretations, that it might be time to reconsider this claim about the clarity of the Bible’s message.

    But…nope.

    Amazing to watch.

    Vaal


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