It all began on July 3rd.
I began blogging on Adam Hamilton’s chapter “Will There Be Hindus in Heaven.” Of course his whole book is dedicated to finding the middle ground between extreme positions.
Today we are doing an “internal summary,” a “preview”, and then we are moving on. [This will be your fair warning].
On the 3rd I considered the “narrow gate” of the Christian path to God. On July 6th, I took on the idea of the Jewish people and are they going to be in Heaven [tough]. On the 8th, I did the impossible: spent 800 words saying something about one of the most esoteric religions in the world—Hinduism. Are they going to make it into Heaven? On the 11th, 13th and 21st I tried to blog on the connections we have with the Islamic faith and in the middle of these posts, I had one devoted to peace on July 18th. Wow, weekly terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists made me really think about those posts carefully [as if thousands read this blog; they don’t].
Today we are going to begin a discussion of hell. [Like going from the frying pan to the fire; pun intended].
If we are considering whether Jewish people, Hindus or Muslims are going to be in hell, let’s get focused on it a bit.
In my experience, people don’t like even thinking about it. I was in a Sunday school class one time and the teacher wanted to study a book on end times. That study makes us confront the idea of whether we are going to be in heaven or hell. I remember three people leaving the class permanently over the study of this book. They said they just did not want to study such a subject.
I don’t like to think that I will go there, that torturous furnace, that place where the worm dies not and my favorite scary description from my childhood days: that place where there is weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Thinking of hell makes us confront the end of life and that is never pleasant.
Some just refuse to believe that it exists and these people profess to be Christians. I guess they ignore those passages in the Bible. Often the hell-deniers also refuse to believe that the devil is an active agent in the world today.
Where do we stand on such issues? I may lose some of my few readers over this topic but we have to discuss this because it is an EXTREME issue in our faith.
There are those who are ready to send lots of people to hell. It seems they have the inside track on how God is going to judge people and they don’t hesitate to express His decisions. As we have commented on in Chapter 12, some will say that anyone who has not come to believe in Jesus is going to hell even though that includes literally billions of souls. Only us Christians who believe are going to make it into heaven.
And then we are shocked when someone like Joshua [no last name] writes on his blog “Me Things” this diatribe about Christians’ attitude about hell: “Christians assume that you are going to hell. Non-Christians see evangelism in three ways: Pastors standing on a box downtown reading from the Bible telling people that they are going to hell, Christians passing people at the gas station with a glib statement such as “I want you to know that Jesus loves you and wants you to ask Him into your heart” or the handing out of tracts (poorly written, poorly illustrated, shallow comics that reduce all humanity into two categories of bad people who are going to hell, and Christians.” [Joshua has a Master’s degree in Old Testament from the University of Chicago.] Wow, that stings.
Then of course you have the Christians who think everyone is going to heaven. The way I read my Bible, I don’t think so. We will talk about that in an upcoming post as we discuss “who is going”.
I don’t have all the answers. When you go to St. John Studies, and read the small section called “About Saint John Studies”* you will see my credentials. One thing I do have is a lot of questions and I may just be bold or stupid enough [you choose] to air them on this blog.
My thinking is that you may have questions on the topic of hell also.
It was challenging writing about the Jewish people, Hindus and the Muslims and trying to understand a little of their faith base. I felt the need to do that because Pastor Hamilton hits the reader with that in his first sentence in chapter 12, “Will there be Jews, Muslims or Hindus in heaven?” Now we will take dead aim at hell…
Truly going from the frying pan to the fire…
*From “About Saint John Studies” “I am a learner like you. I am not a seminary trained theologian. I have a PhD in communication but not in theology. I am a Sunday School teacher. I do have a “natural curiosity” about my faith. I want to learn more and through my learning, I want to grow closer to Go