Has the Christian Doctrine of Hell Become an Awkward Liability?

Hell and sinnerThree years ago, my sister, who had long struggled with mental illness, hit her limit and jumped off a freeway bridge. She lived.

She was rushed to the county trauma center, and by the time I arrived from Seattle she was hooked up to an array of life support technologies and monitors. Brain trauma made it hard to know how much she understood of her situation or our conversations, and to know whether she would survive.

One night, while she was in this state, I said to her, “Katha, I don’t know if you can hear me, but we all want for you whatever you want for yourself. If you want to fight this thing and try again, we want that. If you are sick of fighting and ready to be done, that’s ok too.” While I spoke to her, a nurse was doing record keeping at a computer terminal near the foot of her bed.  Some time later when I got up to leave, he approached me and said, “You know, if your sister dies right now she will go to hell.”

I was too flabbergasted to respond—incredulous that he would say this to me in a public taxpayer-funded hospital; even more incredulous that he would say it where she could hear, if she could hear. I thanked him for his concern and left.

The Lake of Fire, Everlasting Punishment, Perdition, Gehenna, the Inferno, the Abyss, Outer Darkness Where There Shall be Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth . . . . Hell has many names and conjures many images—all of them aimed at triggering a sense of horror. Some of these names and descriptions arguably can be found in the Bible—the Christian New Testament at least—and threats of eternal torture used to be a fine way for Christian ministers and missionaries to win converts or keep “the faithful” faithful.

Famed Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards (“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”) waxed eloquent on the topic, elaborating why simple annihilation was insufficient punishment to satisfy the demands of divine justice. Two hundred years later, Billy Graham drove tent revivals across America by pounding pulpits about the threat. Anglican author C.S. Lewis, beloved of modern Evangelicals, said, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next” (Mere Christianity).

I think of heaven and hell as donkey motivators—carrots and sticks. What is the most glamorous eternity an Iron Age peasant could dream of? Streets of gold, gem encrusted walls, white robes, no work, and eternal youth. How about the most horrific? Monsters, darkness and agony, burning and thirst that never end. Give me a drink, the rich man in hell begs Father Abraham in the book of Luke, just a drop on the end of a finger. But Abraham instead reminds him that he already had his turn at the good things in life.

For two millennia, the threat of hell has been one of Christianity’s core assets. It provided the recruiting tool known as Pascal’s Wager, defined thus by the Oxford dictionary: The argument that it is in one’s own best interest to behave as if God exists, since the possibility of eternal punishment in hell outweighs any advantage of believing otherwise. Better safe than sorry.

I once knew an elderly lawyer who had been a nontheist for decades though raised in Christian fundamentalism. As death approached, he confided that although he knew hell couldn’t be real, he couldn’t stop thinking about it and wondering and worrying . . . What if I’m wrong?

I understand the fear; as a child in an evangelical family I asked Jesus into my heart several times, just to be sure. Hell is a scary place. For many people the threat of eternal damnation, instilled in childhood, is so powerful that they simply shut out any questions that might undermine their assurance of salvation.

Because the specter of hell is so frightening and has worked so well for two millennia, some Christian leaders are responding to the modern growth of skepticism by doubling down on the threat, working to make it more visual and visceral. A traveling theatrical production called “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames” makes its way from megachurch to megachurch illustrating the anguish of the damned. The website Catholic Answers analyses Church doctrine and assures believers that hell exists and is already populated with sinners. Come Halloween, we can expect another round of Evangelical “hell houses” aimed at wooing fright-loving, fun-loving teens and then convincing them the danger is real.

Pascal’s wager routinely makes the rounds of the internet as an argument for faith, often coupled with C.S. Lewis’s forced-choice “trilemma”: Jesus was a liar, lunatic, or Lord—Which one are you going to pick? (Note that both the wager and the trilemma are readily dismissed. Lewis omitted, for example, the fourth possibility that the Jesus of the Bible was mostly legend, while Pascal fails to note that committing to the Christian god may condemn you to another god’s hell. Eternal ice, anyone? There are, after all, lots of versions of eternal torture to choose from.)

But increasingly, the specter of a divine torture chamber may be something that turns people away from religion rather than driving them into the fold. Facebook memes compare the Christian god to an abuser who says I love you so much that I’ll hurt you if you don’t love me back. Vyckie Garrison, founder of No Longer Quivering, uses the “Power and Control Wheel of Abuse” to illustrate her former relationship with Jesus.  New Calvinist fire-brands like “women-are-penis-homes” mega-pastor Mark Driscoll  may wax eloquent about universal depravity and eternal torture; but more broadly, Christians are becoming reluctant to say that anyone who doesn’t share their faith is going to be tortured forever—even if that is what they think.

When actor Robin Williams committed suicide in August after a long running battle with cyclical depression, Trent Horn, who writes for Catholic Answers, tweeted, “The rules for talking about Robin Williams: Don’t say where he is now, don’t promote your own cause/message, do pray for him and his family.” I sarcastically translated his tweet as, Don’t say what you think. Don’t say what you think. If you absolutely must talk about it, talk to yourself. Because the bottom line is this: for centuries the Catholic Church identified suicide as a mortal sin and denied Catholic funeral and burial to those who ended their own lives.

In actual practice these days, once a suicide has occurred Catholic priests often scramble to avoid blaming (and so condemning) the victim. They point to mitigating circumstances like depression and suffering, which may diminish the free and conscious choice of the person in question and so his or her eternal culpability.

But even today, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops—acting as god’s authorities here on Earth, so they believe—have pitted themselves against death-with-dignity laws that allow for rational suicide of terminal patients. They argue instead that dying men and women whose suffering can’t be relieved should be taught to embrace a Christian belief in redemptive suffering. (See Number 5 of the Ethical and Religious Directives that govern Catholic healthcare.)

That brings us back to the topic of hell, because the whole point of the Christian hell is that suffering there is not redemptive. It is, somehow, simultaneously unendurable and endured eternally, and fair–created and administered by a deity who knew in advance that most humans would end up there and yet who created us anyway because loves us so much.

This is where the moral house of cards collapses, and the value of hell as a recruiting device may as well.  It is increasingly difficult to convince educated people that they and their friends and children deserve infinite suffering for finite failings—or that a god who acts like an Iron Age tyrant (or domestic abuser) is the model of perfect love. A group called Child Evangelism Fellowship aroused intense opposition in Portland last summer in part because outsiders to biblical Christianity were appalled that insiders would try to convert small children by threatening them with torture.

And so, increasingly the time-honored Christian doctrine of hell is being put into a dark closet where the folks most likely to shine a flashlight on it are anti-theists like me who would rather see it exposed to the bright light of reason and compassion or universalist Christians who question whether it was ever biblical to begin with.

The appeal of hell as a part of the faith package appears to be in decline, even among Evangelicals. According to a 2011 survey, while 92% of Americans claimed some sort of belief in God, only 75% believed in hell. A 2013 Harris poll put belief in the devil and hell at 58 percent. As one theology professor, Mike Wittmer, put it: “In a pluralistic, post-modern world, students are having a more difficult time with (the idea of) people going to hell forever because they didn’t believe the right thing.”

The decline in hell-belief may be due to the same factors that seem to be causing the decline in Bible belief more broadly—globalization and the internet. It gets harder to imagine oneself blissfully indifferent to the eternal torture of Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and atheists when those people have names and faces and are (Facebook) friends.

Even so, for many Christians the notion that sinners will suffer for eternity offers some lingering satisfaction. This is possible only because most people who believe in hell also believe, at least on the surface, that they are part of an exclusive club that isn’t going there. When Pentecostal Bishop Carlton Pearson transitioned from preaching hellfire and brimstone to preaching what he called, “the gospel of inclusion,” most of his congregation wasn’t ready to follow him. He lost church, friends, and livelihood.

Ultimately, Pearson moved with his wife and family to Chicago, where he launched a “radically inclusive spiritual community.” Retired Anglican bishop, John Shelby Spong, author of Why Christianity Must Change or Die praised Pearson’s transformation: “The God Bishop Pearson is serving is a God of love, not judgment; a God of universalism, not sectarianism; a God of expansion, not control.” Spong called Pearson’s Gospel of Inclusion “intriguing, provocative and hopeful, a surprising twist in our ancient faith story.”

Radical inclusion means that Pearson opens the door even to even humanists and atheists, not as potential converts but as potential spiritual kin. Without a hell to send them to, what else is one to do?

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org. Subscribe to her articles at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

Heaven, Hell and Sam Harris
Baptists Bank on Fire and Brimstone

About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt; Deas and Other Imaginings.
This entry was posted in Musings & Rants: Christianity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Has the Christian Doctrine of Hell Become an Awkward Liability?

    • Jack Schlotte says:

      Any concept of hell is pure myth!
      The best advice or philosophy of living is to give up any and all supernatural beliefs and endorse science and rationality. Some would say morals come to us through religion. I say poppycock! Dame Jane Goodall, George Schaller and Frans de Waal ALL have evidence PROVING that altruism evolved in the animal kingdom long before mankind or ANY religions existed. Religion only knows retreat, as science advances. Failed televangelists, burning of “heretics” and witches at the stake, defrocked priests, pedophilia scandals and an ever increasing exodus FROM religion in our 21st century, all spell doom for the gullible, indoctrinated folks who cling to outmoded supernatural beliefs. True happiness comes from a thorough understanding of man’s real place in nature through scientific knowledge and reasoning.
      Look up the “Flying Spaghetti Monster” on wikipedia to see religious sarcasm at its best.
      Then Google “the Clergy Project” to see how countless pastors, priests, imams, rabbis and ministers have recanted their religion and turned instead to reality, i.e. science!
      Religions are so paranoid, they put Galileo under house arrest, trying to get him to recant reality! They’re still doing similarly incomprehensible and reprehensible acts to this day.
      There is ZERO place in the 21st century for those who thump their Bibles and state that “you cannot escape GOD!” That is their personal shortfall, an outmoded belief system, steeped in ancient myths and too long-held coercion and brainwashing that rules their gullible minds. Want a genuinely majestic and real view of man’s true place in nature? Cast off your lifelong indoctrination from “those religious folks” and read Dr. Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” for a rational, scientific and beautifully poetic orientation to the marvels and truths of the scientific, yes EVOLUTIONARY development of mankind.
      Look up “List of Deities” on wikipedia to see THOUSANDS of former gods, idols, talismans and other “supernatural” entities that are no longer worshiped and have been cast into the dustbin of history, myth and fable. I believe in one less “god” than you do… YOURS! When one frees their mind of such false idols and the Dark Ages thinking of religion, true enlightenment will follow.
      “… the use of our intelligence quite properly gives us pleasure. In this
      respect the brain is like a muscle. When we think well, we feel good.
      Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.” ~Dr. Carl Sagan quote.


    • Jim says:

      Some thoughts about hell: I’ve travelled extensively in Europe over the last 14 years. What I saw and continue to see there relates directly to your article on hell: torture dungeons. These are now tourist attractions, but from their incredibly nasty nature, and since they were common and largely created by an aristocracy that mixed religious and political power, it can at least be hypothesized that the images of hell created by later Christianity flow directly from the widespread practice of torture by the European aristocracies and the Church itself.

      And for the people of those times, it was certainly widely known that this fate awaited those who transgressed either civil or religious laws. Burning people at the stake publicly could be another source of the hellfire imagery. Torture and the accompanying “theology” that described a fire-based hell was at base a centuries-long terror campaign to force obedience to the mix of civil and religious laws that we know as mediaeval Christianity.

      My childhood parish was named after Sir (saint) Thomas More, but we never learned that he supervised torture in the Tower of London, and had heretics burned at the stake.

      As an aside: travelling throughout Europe, one can also see that churches were planted in even the smallest rural village, providing a system of intelligence-gathering and propaganda that perhaps even today’s spies would envy.


    • jan2 says:

      thank – you so much for your web page, it has restored my sanity. Being brought up in an Fundamngelical church certainly leaves you with questions. Like, do we actually need god to be good? I’ve only just found out the 4 words for hell in the original, the bible is so convoluted and confusing throughout. Do atheists really lead bad lives, not as far as I can see, they just don’t beleive in god or the devil. Can’t we teach ethics and morality without a god or gods?


      • Sha'Tara says:

        Quote: ” Can’t we teach ethics and morality without a god or gods?” This appears to be a rhetorical question, but it raises interesting points. One, take out deities, superior if unseen spirit beings who could have been creators, or advanced alien races who left man behind here, and we have nothing but a raw and shaky evolutionist theory to look back on, and the question in my mind is, how could man “evolve” ethics and morality since nature has no need of such things? Closely tied to this thought is, why does man feel the powerful need to hide under clothes? Two, does religion actually teach ethics and morality? To the first question, simply not possible. A naturally evolved being would live a natural life in sync with his nurturing environment. Un-assailable point. To the second, I know from long-standing experience that religion teaches neither ethics nor morality, quite the opposite. Yes, ethical and “moral” (whatever that translates as) people have emerged from their religious background, but that is so rare that it is noted, some being even sainted. Therefore, not a standard in religion. More often than not, it’s the opposite that is noted in religious people: intransigence, bigotry, pride, fear and hate which lead to all sorts of horrors. But all that notwithstanding, since we can discuss these things, it means they have a certain reality to us. The point is to realize this is a strictly personal approach. Neither ethics nor morality can be taught to groups or gatherings as history (and anyone who has spent enough hours in pews listening to sermons) can attest, they have no holding power. Morals and ethics can only be appraised, accepted and practiced by individuals who make the conscious personal choice to live thus. They are purely experiential matters, not philosophical issues. Whether that is in our DNA or in some as yet unrecognized connection to a cosmic “mind” matters not: we have these “things” in us now and we can choose to develop them further, or as the majority clearly demonstrates, to ignore them, or belittle them, to our endless peril. “Peace, peace, they say, yet there is no peace.”


  1. I think I would have told that nurse which orifice his concern could be put into, if I’d been in that situation. The whole concept of Hell was the first reason in the list of why I dumped monotheism in general and Christianity in particular.


  2. Endre Polyak says:

    You create your own hell and heaven.


  3. Jim Lee says:

    What a sad state of affairs Valerie. Over the years since I rejected Christianity I’ve had many Christians tell me that the won’t leave the church because they fear they will go to hell when they die. I feel for the gullible.


  4. skater6000 says:

    Two of the common sayings of Jesus are “Don’t be afraid” and “Your sins are forgiven”. Being a psychologist you know that people punish themselves for the wrongs they do. It’s up to us individually, to not be afraid to forgive ourselves. Hell is when we don’t do that. CS Lewis in his “Great Divorce” expressed that concept pretty well. Worth a read.


    • Thank you. To clarify, though, only people with intact moral emotions (empathy, shame, guilt etc.) punish themselves for the wrong they do. Some people appear to be born without those capacities or have them irreparably damaged in childhood. I read the Great Divorce in high school and still think it is a lovely concept. But at this point I also think it is a lovely fiction, one that illustrates some of Lewis’s naiveté about human psychology.


  5. lorenakoran says:

    I really enjoyed this article. I’ll be sharing it on my FaceBook wall. :)


  6. Allan Avery says:

    Your Sister’s and your ordeal: Flabergasted Indeed !!! How could one be so hurtful ??? Unfortunately and unintentionally easy, for a billion or so individual reasons, for the indoctrinated and “extrospective” masses. (I think I just coined a new word there.) Valerie you are a secular Saint. The Secular Pope even! :-)) Keep it up. The Spirits are with you.


  7. You “thanked him for his concern!”

    I don’t know how to politely express how offended I am by his behavior. I understand you were caught by surprise, but if it had been me, I would have asked him to identify himself and then immediately filed a complaint (after taking a few deep breaths). The following day, I would have had my attorney sending a letter to hospital administration demanding to know what kind of disciplinary action was being taken.

    Since he’s a licensed nurse, perhaps a formal complaint to the appropriate government agency would be in order. When questioned in front of witnesses, he might well lie about what he said, in which case he wouldn’t be fired, or even reprimanded (he said she said).

    He would, however, be unlikely to be this despicable to others.


  8. Rick Drake says:

    Hell is for those who refuse to believe in another point of view. Information is power to those who seek it.


  9. Perry says:

    I wasn’t taught critical thinking skills or how to be an independent thinker as a child, so to deal with the cognitive dissonance christian dogma created in my still developing 16 year old brain, I came up with Pascal’s Wager, though I had no idea it was called that. I’ve read someone describe it as a school boy argument. But when you are trapped in dogma with no apparent way out, a simplistic argument like that is somewhat reassuring. It’s only when I escaped that trap that I realized that ‘bait’ was a losing bet.

    I kind of like the concept that hell is other people, in the same way that evil is not supernatural but what people do to each other.


  10. beth says:

    I know it’s not the major point of her piece, but I am wondering whether his sister recovered.


  11. Pingback: Has the Christian Doctrine of Hell Become an Awkward Liability? - Religion is Bullshit!Religion is Bullshit! - Religion is bullshit and so is the Bible.

  12. richardzanesmith says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that unless a Christian is totally cold-hearted and indifferent to suffering, many believe in hell ONLY as a spiritually correct doctrine but not a reality. If we as parents had a child being held hostage and possibly being tortured how could we sing Christmas carols?So even worse, how could any Christian celebrate Christmas and sing ‘joy to the world” if they KNEW at that moment a daughter, a son, or an uncle was being systematically mutilated eternally simply because they didn’t choose the red pill.


    • Rob S says:

      Despite what the Bible & Thumpers may say about the subject I say God is not a judge, that’s what I’ve gathered in seventy-four years. Each of us is our own judge, Here and There, is what I believe. In response to that, God’s hobby is to be a compassionate counselor, who helps us grow, no matter what “dimension” we reward or condemn ourselves to – Here or There. We grow and grow! The only way is “up” and the only thing God does with “Sin” is forgive it. Jesus said it best – “Your sins are forgiven” and “Do not be afraid”. Leaning on those words is waaay-wise advice.


  13. R.Sidney Collins says:

    Hi Valerie, Sorry Valerie, I don’t tweet, twitter, face book , or anything else that requires another password. R.Sidney Collins


  14. PyotrZ says:

    If Hell is real then then the entity that created it is unworthy of human worship. Omnipotence has no power to capture my free allegiance. It may be that humanity was created by an all-powerful sadistic torturer; if so, I choose to remain defiant. My loyalty is to my fellow human beings, whether we are damnable chattel or just lost in a strange laconic cosmos.


    • Jack Schlotte says:

      You nailed it! But if you gain a scientific awareness of man’s REAL place in nature, you’re never “lost in a strange laconic cosmos!” Please read Dr. Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” for a poetic and reverential introduction to scientific reality.


      • PyotrZ says:

        Science should not be confused with metaphysics. As human beings were are confronted with existential questions that go beyond a scientific account of how our physical situation developed. To explain the universe is very useful, but does not explain our EXPERIENCE of the universe. It is a dead end to suppose that science gives us answers about our existential situation. Science can only answer questions where we are able to gather evidence. There are informational horizons that limit science, but these horizons do no limit our imagination or our need to seek ever-deeper answers to questions of being and existence. So, yes, we are lost. We do not know if our manifold sails in a multiversal fleet or alone on the abyss. We do not know if conscious subjective experience enjoys an infinite recurrence or if we are chimeric motes, here only once and then forever gone. Whether derived from religious dogma or science misapplied, final answers are neither final nor answers. Cheers!


      • photojack53 says:

        And just how do you define metaphysics? Any correlation with the “supernatural?” “Meta” = beyond physics, “super” (in this context) = above nature. As a scientist and an atheist, I believe in neither one. I have ZERO belief in any concept of afterlife or reincarnation. I thoroughly believe we are “chimeric motes, here only once and then forever gone.” Ashes to ashes, dust to dust… after you die, you’re “brain dead” and will never bounce back. Believing in former lives or an “infinite recurrence” is grasping at straws or wishful thinking that serves no purpose. Living the ONE life you are given to the fullest, devoid of mythical hopes and false idols, is self actualization at its highest achievement.
        “… the use of our intelligence quite properly gives us pleasure. In this respect the brain is like a muscle. When we think well, we feel good. Understanding is a kind of ecstasy.”
        Dr. Carl Sagan quote.


    • Perry Bulwer says:

      It seems to me that the highest expression of human love surpasses the so-called ‘love of God’. I’m with you, I’ll take my chances and remain defiant to the notion and concept of gods, or the judeo/christian/islamic God that threatens unbelievers with eternal torture. I think the odds are in are favor that no such sadistic monster exists.


  15. truthsurge says:

    he approached me and said, “You know, if your sister dies right now she will go to hell.”

    You know, THIS is when being a man comes in handy. I would seriously knock his teeth down his throat.


    • Jack Schlotte says:

      It doesn’t take a man or a fist to right the wrongs of people like this. Just words, thoughts and logic can tie them in knots, just like this article did!


  16. gwpj says:

    Excellent article. Because I don’t believe in Hell (among other orthodox beliefs), my eldest son is concerned that I’ll spend eternity there, and he won’t be able to see me when he arrives in Heaven. Obviously, we don’t have many conversations about the subject of faith. :-)


  17. Teresa says:

    Reblogged this on Walking Away and commented:
    Dying and going to hell is Christianity’s “Fear Factor’. Using eternal torment as a tool to encourage obedience has been used for centuries by religion. In this article, Valerie Tarico shares an insightful look at the doctrine of hell in Christian theology.


  18. Ted Luoma says:

    We can deny hell all we want just as many deny Jesus Christ. Those denials don’t affect reality.


    • They don’t affect reality; they reflect reality. Please do your homework on the psychology of religious belief and then on the origins of Christianity in ancient Hebrew and pagan religions.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ted Luoma says:

        I’m well aware. I’m also aware that there are many that reject Jesus Christ. You can pretend he is a myth all you want. We all will find out if hell is only a human construct soon enough.


      • Marc Petrick says:

        I don’t believe in Hell or the divinity of Jesus or any other prophet, but as the post below shows, there is quite possibly a god of irony.


    • When a faith-idea reduces its adherents to repeating a few stock phrases whenever doubt closes in, when it reduces a mind capable of thought to a degraded set of responses that only parrot items of dogma, then we see not the uplifting power of faith but the corrosive effects of fear. We see that the only apparent comfort for victims of Hell-doctrine is to share and spread that fear, to reduce other beings to the same inward servitude. It makes me feel profoundly sad, but the free-thinker’s mercy seems hateful to victims of malefic religion.


      • Ted Luoma says:

        The fear of hell is not why I believe. I believe because of an incredibly gracious God who died on a cross while I was his enemy. Gratitude, not fear is what drives me.


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  20. Jerry Pine says:

    1. Evangelicals are ignorant concerning the influence of ancient Greek and Roman religious beliefs on their own views of the non-coporal afterlife, heaven, and hell.
    2. Even if we (mistakenly) take the parable of the wealthy man and Lazarus literally, apparently hell is more like Palm Springs than it is a lake of fire. The dead man’s chief complaint is thirst. Most of us have experienced even minor burns like touching a hot iron or having the shower too hot. The pain from even a brief encounter with excessive heat pretty much shuts out everything else we may be feeling at the moment of contact.
    3. And as for fundamentalists’ and evangelicals’ need to tell people they are hell-bound, I would point them to Matthew 5:12. The consequences of name-calling someone are briefly outlined in this short text and they are listed in ascending order (least consequential to most consequential). The most egregious of the three is calling someone what is usually translated as “fool.” When we think of a fool, words like idiot or moron are are usually interchangeable. However, the better translation is “apostate.” Apparently God takes His position as judge seriously and does not subcontract the job out to anyone.
    4. I proposed marriage to my wife over 27 years ago and she foolishly said, “Yes!” But I suspect her response would have quite different had I said, “I love you and want nothing more than to spend every moment of of my life with you and make you the happiest person alive. But if you say no, I will soak you in gasoline and set a match to you. I don’t want to do that, but that’s the natural consequences of living your life apart from me and my love.” Jesus, as portrayed in the four Gospels, is the lens through which I view what God is like. Jesus was loving to the point of asking forgiveness for his torturers because they were ignorant. Jesus was not a psychopath who drops people he claims to love into a gigantic barbecue pit and keeps them from death as a result of the fire.


    • No wonder I’ve had such rotten luck with women! You’ve taught me a valuable lesson. Henceforth, I will never so much as mention “gasoline” the next time I’m trying to persuade a woman to become intimate.


  21. Ben Lively says:

    This article is an opinion-only piece – if you are only to actually read the Bible, cover to cover. It’s only until you actually do that (not just rely on this article or information in it), that you will have a spiritual understanding of what it takes to be saved, what it takes personally to have a relationship with Christ, who by grace alone gives salvation and eternal life with him, and the opposite – what it takes to be condemned to Hell for eternity. You’ll read, from the words of God alone, that we are all already condemned to Hell – we’ve already ‘earned it’, yet we can be saved only through Jesus Christ. Go ahead – read it….don’t let your eternity be left to your human interpretation or those of others’. For the One who actually CREATED Heaven and Hell has given you a perfect blueprint for understanding and for the how-to to earn eternity in Heaven. The eternal ball is now in your court. How’re you going to respond from this moment on?


    • I, too, encourage people to read the Bible cover to cover. Reading the Bible is one of the most effective ways for people to discover that it is a human document, with authors who were full of the same flaws and weaknesses we all have and who were immersed in the ignorance of the Iron Age. To suggest that it is a perfect blueprint from God is idolatry–putting God’s name on human creations. Worse, it paints a picture of God as monstrous as any painted by people you probably think of as heathens and polytheists.


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