Tag Archives: hell

Bible toten’ gun slingers

Some time back I did a post I called “Why I don’t believe in hell.”  In the very first sentence I confess that the title is just an attention grabber and that I’m actually posting to highlight the absolute importance of placing one’s faith in Jesus Christ to be saved.  We aren’t saved by believing all the right things (including believing (as I do) that there is a hell) – but are, instead, saved by placing our faith in the right Person!

That post has received a lot of nice comments.  A few folks had a hard time getting past the subject line and wanted to be sure that I was on “their side” in the “hell debate” (even though I quoted directly from our church Manual) but by and large the exchanges have been positive and friendly.  I’ve accepted all those to be published as comments on the post.

However, every month or so I get a response intended to prove to me that hell exists or which accuses me of abandoning the faith.  Obviously, that person either didn’t read the article or didn’t understand what they read.  Those comments never see the light of day.

Simply stated, that’s not how Christians interact with one another.  We don’t ignore what people say so we can score points for Jesus.  We don’t accuse people of things without taking time to hear them out.

The Lord doesn’t commission Bible toten’ gun slingers to ride the range gunning down outlaws.  Now, I know that some nice people simply lack the tools to think through some issues and I know that others operate so far beyond me that they see flaws in my opinions that have escaped me.  The best I am able I want to be charitable to the first group.  At the same time, I hope the second group will do the same for me.

My suggestion to some who scan the Internet for people who need to be “gunned down” is that you at least take time to read what is said before you commence firing.

Why I don’t believe in hell

The subject, “Why I don’t believe in hell” is really just an attention grabber. What I mean is that I don’t think belief in hell is necessary for salvation. You see, I believe IN Jesus. I trust him to be my Savior and I’ve made him Lord of my life. Without him I’m hopelessly lost.

Beyond that, I really don’t want to believe hell exists, at least as a destination for human beings. Really, I’ve tried to not believe it exists but I can’t find a way to do so without abandoning Scripture on the topic and I’m not ready to do that.

Still, I don’t think believing in or doubting the existence of hell has any direct bearing on one’s salvation. I’m saved because I’ve believed in the right Person, not because I’ve believed all the right things. I don’t think I should use one’s views on hell as a sort of litmus test as to whether or not I think they’re saved.

I do think that, in some very specific cases, warnings of hell can cause a person to rethink their life and turn to Jesus for Salvation from that place. If a person believes hell exists and that they can potentially go there, then offering hope of being “saved” from that destiny can have a real influence on their response to the Gospel message.

On the other hand, if a person doubts hell exists then threatening them with hell is going to get me nowhere. They’ll probably think of me as quaint, superstitious, and hopelessly out of touch. At that point I can either spend a lot of time and energy trying to prove the reality of hell to them or I can try to prove something else to them; maybe that God loves them and has sent his Son into this world to make it possible for us to have a genuine relationship with him. I think that’s the more reasonable approach.

My denomination believes hell exists and that people are going there. Our church Manual states:

We believe in the resurrection of the dead, that the bodies both of the just and of the unjust shall be raised to life and united with their spirits—“they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

We don’t rejoice in that fact. We’d rather that people come to know the Lord, letting him transform their lives. We’re a lot more interested in helping people realize God’s transforming grace than we are in telling them they’re bound for hell. Again, in some cases, the warning might help a few seriously consider responding to the Lord’s offer to “save” them.

So, I don’t believe IN hell – that believing it is a part of my being saved. Still, to “be saved” means being saved from something doesn’t it? On the other hand I believe IN Jesus. My eternal hope is in him and nothing else and no one else.

Please note: there have been a number of nice comments to this article, but for some reason when I changed blog addresses they didn’t transfer. You can see them here.