Skip to comments.To hell with Hell?
Posted on 04/26/2011 3:41:53 PM PDT by NYer
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I can readily agree with that. Hell is *not*, nor ever has been, Satan's realm. It is earmarked to be his prison. I suspect, that like "Supermax" in Florence, all the 'inmates' will be 'in solitary confinement', including him...
It scared people away from free thinking and reason with promises of damnation for questioning the official belief of the church, which was heavily intertwined with the government pre-Enlightenment, much like modern governments position man-made climate change as consensus fact and discourage questioning it in hopes that you don't call into debate their authority to tax and regulate your life. Buying indulgences was the beta version of buying carbon credits.
I'll probably go to Hell for pointing this out, but its pretty obvious that mankind's rulers have always needed a gargantuan scare tactic to keep people in line; something that would infect their mind and terrify them even in their sleep.
Ironically, the idea that you must believe a certain way in order to avoid eternal torture and misery is an evil concept in and of itself.
I think the sky is really pink and that science has convinced us that pink is actually blue. My 'thinking', however, does not change reality.
Hell is not just a theoretical possibility. Jesus warns us that real people go there. He says, "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matt. 7:1314). In Mark 9:4748 Jesus warns us, "It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." And in Revelation 14:11, we read: "And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."
Ross Douthat, in an OpEd response to Bell's book in the NYT, makes the argument for hell quite well.
But the more important factor in hells eclipse, perhaps, is a peculiar paradox of modernity. As our lives have grown longer and more comfortable, our sense of outrage at human suffering its scope, and its apparent randomness has grown sharper as well. The argument that a good deity couldnt have made a world so rife with cruelty is a staple of atheist polemic, and every natural disaster inspires a round of soul-searching over how to reconcile with Gods omnipotence with human anguish.
Doing away with hell, then, is a natural way for pastors and theologians to make their God seem more humane. The problem is that this move also threatens to make human life less fully human. Atheists have license to scoff at damnation, but to believe in God and not in hell is ultimately to disbelieve in the reality of human choices. If theres no possibility of saying no to paradise then none of our nos have any real meaning either. Theyre like home runs or strikeouts in a childrens game where nobodys keeping score.
No one is denying that the Bible doesn't mention Hell, but when you're talking about things in an objective manner, citing a religious text does not provide empirical evidence of another dimension.
Even Christians can't agree on the concept of Hell, so the issue is not even settled within the faith.
My only point was that it seems to fit within the behavior of rulers to use concepts such as eternal damnation for not towing the line as a tool of submission.
Anyone who denies the existence of hell while believing in the promise of Heaven needs to read up on the testimonies of exorcists. The demons themselves tell of being of hell. They admit to their decisions damning them to that fate as well. Really scary stuff.
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