I’ve always had a hard time with the concept of hell, the devil, eternal suffering, etc… The idea that people are experiencing infinite consequences because of some sort of finite failure is unbelievable to me.
I came to faith at 21, and I came with a LOT of questions. The biggest one was hell. “How could a loving God…?” and all of that.
I never heard a single answer that satisfied me. In fact, I was shocked at how little it seemed to both people that there was a Hell full of people suffering! I heard numerous people say that their suffering would somehow enhance the joy of people in Heaven… “Thank God we’re not down there, eh?!”
The idea that God created all of this, and that the MAIN POINT is that some people would come to believe something, and they would be IN, and everyone else would be… OUT.
All the while, there are ~5,000 religions in the world, and tens of thousands of denominations and variations within those religions. So… God’s in Heaven right now saying, “You better get the right one!”?
What a weird game to play.
You better get the right one.
You better be born in a time and place where that’s even possible.
If you’re reading this in Utah, I bet you’re Mormon!
If you’re reading this in India, I bet you’re Hindu!
And so on, and so on…
Essentially, you better believe the right one even if the people who were leaders in that one mistreated you, tarnishing the whole thing. You’ve got to look past that and still believe, or else!
This quote from Brian McLaren ruined the whole idea for me in 2003: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, and he’ll fry your butt in hell forever unless you do or believe the right thing. God is a loving father, but he’ll treat you with a cruelty that no human father has ever been guilty of- eternal conscious torture. No wonder Christianity- or at least that version of it- is a dying religion in so many places in the world.” – McLaren
For the millions of people living (and dying) in poverty… if they don’t believe, then they end up in Hell too? That means that when I walked into the slums of Malawi, and saw people suffering and dying, I could have stooped down and whispered to those people on their deathbeds, “This is actually the best it’s ever gonna be for you.”
That’s insensitive, and I would obviously never do that… but it’s true. If this temporary suffering is just a mist, and eternal suffering and separation is on the way, then this actually isn’t that bad in comparison.
Is that the best God can do? That’s the best storyline God could come up with? That makes me want to cry.
The SAME God who dreamt up and created everything amazing and beautiful in this Universe (that’s a really long list), when it came to the pinnacle of creation, the human being, this is the best God could do?
I can’t fathom that.
I can’t fathom the father coming off the porch, embracing his son, being the same father who would punish his children forever.
That dad needs counseling.
I also can’t fathom a father who would LET their kid choose.
If I let Gavin choose what to eat every day for every meal, he’ll be 99% chicken nugget by the weekend. That would be unloving, because he isn’t smart enough to know better yet!
If I choose to believe in anything but God, and God actually exists, then I’m choosing the wrong thing because I don’t know any better.
I believe in God, but I think it’s rational and reasonable to NOT believe in God. Contrary to popular belief, most atheists aren’t out there drop-kicking puppies and pistol-whipping old women… They are people who have assessed the world they live in, and happen to believe that there isn’t a deity involved. And… they’re using the brains that God gave them to come to that conclusion.
Why would God play that game? Why would God make it completely reasonable to question all of this?
Now, if you’re a Calvinist… holy cow thank you for reading this far.
If God picked teams before everything even started, and some people were already in and some people were already out, then I’ve got a lot of questions about that god.
This concludes my unedited rant.
Knibb High football rules!