This is a fairly intimidating title for a series of posts, but I feel as though the subject matter warrants something a little more intense. Throughout the next few posts in this section I want to explore various perspectives in the existence of an eternal “Hell,” or, rather a place where one spends eternity outside of “Heaven” or “Nirvana.” Ideas I want to look at are:
1. The traditional belief in an eternal Hell where those people go who are not Christian.
2a. The Universalist perspective that Hell is either non-permanent or does not exist at all.
2b. A slight modification of the Universalist argument that is centered around Christ. Namely, Christocentric Universalism.
In looking at such ideas, I want to explore what the implications of each one are when forming one’s faith. It is important, in any faith background, to do good Systematic Theology and this series is aimed at just that.
One final disclaimer. I do not want this conversation to take itself to seriously. These are very serious ideas with, in my opinion, huge implications on one’s worldview and/or faith. However, this is a blog. I don’t want this to feel like an online journal article that someone is being forced to read for their intro to religious studies class. So, let’s keep it real. I’m jammin’ to Kid Cudi while I write this, so if you feel like I’m overdoing it, just picture me in my current context, or in my underwear.
So, now it is finally time to look at number 1: The traditional Christian belief of Hell. This belief, generally, understands Hell as eternal punishment for sin against God. There are many well thought through ways to arrive at this perspective, but sometimes I feel like the main one is where we grow up. No matter. But with this and the other beliefs, I don’t want to spend too much time on how one may come to each particular belief. Rather, I want to work backwards and see what the implications of each view is. People have written books on this – I don’t want to do that.
So, what are the implications for the belief in an eternal Hell? Well, there are several, but I’m just going to touch on a few. First, you believe that a great deal of the worlds population will exist in this Hell (or all who do not know Jesus) and that they are being punished for their non-belief. Faith is not through works, so many people in Hell may be good people who did not believe and there may be some in Heaven that were not so kind, but they believed in Christ darn it! *I’m not trying to demean this view with colloquial tone, just to be frank and real about the seriousness of its implication for many people.*
So, as a Christian with this perspective, it makes plenty of sense to evangelize and spread the word to as many as possible. Get off your couch and share Christ! Go to unreached villages and translate the Bible into tribal languages! Onward! Evangelism, for many in this camp, is active and involves the gospel directly through spoken word. Others like the Augustinian way of actions speaking louder than words. Either way, evangelism is required if a belief in this damnation is legitimate.
It also increases the importance of this life and our beliefs we have during it. With universalism, on the other hand, our decisions about belief have less weight because all roads lead to the same peak. With traditional hell, one must think very hard and consider where they stand on our good friend, Jesus. There is an increased cost to disbelief or alternative beliefs.
I don’t want to write a novel here or keep on rambling, so I’ll wrap it up here. I may say more about this perspective later on, but I would encourage dialogue with anyone interested. These conversations are best had when both sides can be thoughtful and reason with one another. Contact me if you think I’ve been close-minded or would like me to clarify anything.
Stay tuned for more on all of this in the weeks to come.