I'm an M.K., a missionaries' kid. I'm also a lawyer. (There must an oxymoron in there somewhere). From experience I can state that it is hell to believe in Hell. For forty years my universe contained a literal Hell that I took for granted, where the vast majority of humanity (me and a few other believers excepted because we were the one's who'd made it through the narrow gate) would forever live in unending, irreversible, unimaginable torment. This was the just and direct result of their rejection of Jesus Christ.
My parents were missionaries primarily because they believed that, even those who had never heard of Jesus were going to Hell. This is because, if you haven't accepted Jesus, you have, by default rejected Jesus. There was no "in between". You were either saved or lost. Many of us even believed that you could lose your salvation if you screwed up. I preferred the idea of "once saved, always saved". It's called "eternal security", as I'm sure you know.
From birth, through High School and Bible School, I was immersed in fundamentalist Christianity. It wasn't until University that I became close to anyone who was "unsaved". When I spent the last year of my undergraduate degree and the first year of Law in a co-ed residence at U.W.O., my new baptism by immersion was complete.
The closer I came to my "unsaved" friends, the more I appreciated them as good people. I observed a great deal of immoral behavior, certainly far below community standards. But not once did I see anything that would come close to deserving Hell. When I "shared my testimony" to them, they seldom accepted what I said. But they didn't reject what I said, either. Generally they remained open, but unconvinced. A crack in my faith appeared that was a direct result of Hell (I'm sure my fundamentalist friends would have fun with that statement). I began to question, specifically because I couldn't imagine any of my friends in Hell while I was in Heaven. I realized that, if I truly believed in the Hell that I had taken for granted, I would either go insane, or I would be irresistibly compelled to dedicate all my resources in a desperate attempt, by any means whatsoever, to pursuade the lost to accept Jesus as Savior.
At one point I asked God to give me a taste of Hell, so that I would be more passionate in my attempts to lead my friends to Jesus. If God has answered that prayer in any way that makes sense to me, it is to show me that because of who God is, Hell cannot exist.
Over the past ten years, as my Christian faith has decreased, my God has expanded. My understanding and appreciation of who God is has exploded. At the same time I have been impressed with how small my scope of reference is. I expect that there will always be more to God that I don't know, than that I do know
I am exploring a God who has unlimited good options available. God doesn't motivate me by fear of Hell. God motivates me by the deep pleasure that following God's guidance gives. God doesn't judge me. He doesn't need to. He knows me. God doesn't require anything from me, but He gives me the pleasure that comes from contributing. God does not tell me that I'm evil. He shows me His goodness.
My scope of reference is too big for me to own blind faith, but it is far too small for me to claim any dogma. Even so, I now believe (not absolutely, but beyond any reasonable doubt that I am aware of) that Hell does not exist, in any form.
This topic fascinates me because, if the fundamentalists are correct, absolutely nothing, not even the extinction of the human race should consume another ounce of our resources. If they are correct everything else is insignificant. We can have only one desperate focus and that is to save the souls of those we love. Anything else, for all eternity, will be a total waste. On the other hand, if they are wrong, then let's hope that more people will recognize how destructive it is to believe the people are evil, and that God's only option was such a hellish one.
Copyright © 1998 Rick Ross
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