It’s taken me many years to empty hell. As a child, I was taught only Christians would be saved. Billions of non-Christians would crowd hell. The thought of non-Christians in eternal torment didn’t disturb me because I’d been told Christians were good people and non-Christians were bad people. Since I grew up in a Midwestern American town where nearly everyone belonged to a Christian church, I had little opportunity to test this assumption. Non-Christians lived in the big city or in foreign countries—the places where we sent missionaries. I remember the first time I seriously questioned this worldview.
I was in college when I saw the movie Gandhi. I walked out of that theater forever changed. In Gandhi, I encountered a good man who was also a non-Christian. In fact, his commitment to love and mercy far exceeded that of many Christians. While he never acknowledged Jesus as Savior, he lived the way Jesus commanded us to live.
Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-03-17). If Grace Is True: Why God Will Save Every Person (Plus) (pp. 162-163). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
After finally accepting God’s love I find it strange to believe that he is going to damn the vast majority of those he loves to an eternal anguish. We spend less than a century on this earth in one degree of happiness or another and then billions, if not trillions of centuries in total misery and anguish. That is just not the God that I have come to know.
I too grew up in a very sheltered life in a small midwest town. There were no visible minorities there and there certainly were nothing but Christian churches of one flavor or another in the area. It was not until I went to college that I was exposed to anyone outside my usual cliche. Things would change rather dramatically for me during those years. I learned that everyone who didn’t go to a Christian church were not bad guys. Many seemed to share the same level of morality that I did during those years.
It was later in my life than it was for Mr. Gulley that I saw the movie Gandhi but it also affected me greatly. I went on to learn more about the man and the religious stands of his version of God. Gandhi was a man of infinite morals. He understood thing about loving your fellow man that I still can’t fathom. Why would God send him to hell while giving me a place in heaven.
I like the idea of emptying hell. Is God really going to eternally condemn those stubborn souls who fail to recognize him during their utterly brief time on this earth?
2 thoughts on “Emptying Hell…..”
There is a lot of “traditional theology” that I have an issue with. Having read “Love Wins” by Rob Bell, and agreeing with most of what he says, and the rest not sure what to do with, I am on a journey of faith development. How do we resolve the places where Jesus says things like “No one comes to the Father, except by me.”? These are the types of things that “traditional believers” like to often quote, and I have no idea how to respond to them.
I plan on going back to the beginning of this book review series, and reading it from the start. I may even look at getting the book to read it for myself. Is there a way that we can discuss your journey and mine through email? I am looking for people to have open, non-judgmental conversations about how to develop my faith and understanding of Jesus’ teachings.
Welcome to RedLetterLiving Sean, it is great to have you here. It sounds like you and I are pretty much on the same road with following Jesus Christ. But I can only dream of living it out with such committment as you and Meredith are doing. Thanks for being a good example for the world to see just what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
I must admit that I have yet to read anything by Rob Bell. I have heard good things about him and he is on my want-to-read list but that is a long and continuously growing list . 🙂
Let’s get to your first question at hand. How do I handle “No one comes to the Father, except by me”. I have no problem what so ever with Jesus being the greeter when we get to heaven. I think that is a very appropriate place for him. He doesn’t say “Jump through all the hoops that humans have place in front of you about me or I will turn you away”. Jesus, like his Father, have agape love for all of us. He did not say people like Gandhi are doomed to hell because I am a wrathful being.
Please look at as many posts as you feel comfortable with and ask questions. I am an avid advocate of the phrase “question everything” and that certainly includes things spiritual, maybe especially spiritual. To me it is disgraceful for so many Christian denominations to say you must believe everything we put in front of you or you will be going to hell! No one has it that right, no one but God himself that is.
As to starting a dialog, I think it would be great to keep it in front of everyone who might browse through RedLetterLiving so I would encourage you to leave comments where they are appropriate. I’m sure you and I are not the only two who question things of this nature. If you would like to bring up issues that are not particularly related to a given post then feel free to send email to my firstname.lastname@example.org account.