I promised to say more about hell. Sorry it has taken so long.
I believe the penchant of some Christians to want God to be the heavy who carries a big stick and wins because he is the biggest, has the most power, (actually comments I get) comes from the need for security. Maybe they never knew the feeling of safety from having a strong father or mother who was for them. Or had a parent who was too weak to say “No”, robbing them of security.
We need safety, it’s one of our basic needs according to Maslow. The lack of it, of course, leads to insecurity. We want someone to value us enough to whip the bad guys for us. We want someone with power to care enough about us to champion us. Someone we can brag about.
I listened to my grandsons playing soccer last week, saying, “My dad can…” And then the other chimes in “Well my dad…” I love it that they have dads that they feel secure about. Little boys have always bragged about dads they love.
But would those same proud little boys champion a dad who beat up their mothers?
I can tell you unequivocally, No! I’ve listened to people tell me these stories and they always want to rescue her, and if not hurt him, at least stop him.
My six-year-old grandson didn’t like the way his Dad was talking to his mother and said, “Daddy, why did you marry mama, if all you wanted to do was talk bad and be mean to her?”
So then why would we who are secure in God’s love want him to torture people forever? And since one meaning of forever is “as long as a thing can last,” He would also have to work a miracle to keep these puny bodies alive in flames forever.
When I ask how we could burn forever, people tell me that our “souls” are immortal. That is from God’s arch-enemy, and started in that primal garden, “God knows you won’t die, you ‘ll be as gods knowing good and evil” –the first lie.
He was right about knowing evil, but lying about God stepping in to change cause and effect. He knew better by experience, and he knew that God didn’t make immortal souls from his own deterioration. Besides most people think of souls as spirits anyway. Do spirits burn?
The Hebrew concept of a soul was everything about you, right down to the blood in your veins. But God’s enemy wasn’t trying to spread truth or information. He was trying to cause doubt about God’s goodness.
Hard to believe he has been so successful with that lie, that he has most Christian churches teaching it! And the tandem effect he has caused is fear of God. And we aren’t talking about reverence. If you look at the history of religion, this idea has been it’s nemesis from the beginning of recorded history. Is God really good? Is He really love? Can you really trust Him?
I hear so many people who either charge God with evil (reading the Old Testament) or they excuse Him because He’s God and they don’t know what to do with it. Are those our only choices?
Maybe we need to think bigger, understand, stretch… Perhaps hell isn’t something God imposes. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t go on and on. That doesn’t make any sense, and as I said, above all God has to make sense. You can use scripture to prove almost anything you want if you are selective. But does it fit with God’s character of love? (to be continued…)