Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Problem of Exclusivity 2

A second problem that I have with hard exclusivism is the reality of hell. This is one of those topics that when brought up to Christians most just assume the reality of a lake of fire in the center of the earth where all the non-chosen will be sent to live in eternal torment. While I disagree with the literalism of many interpretations of hell, I think Christians must deal with the reality of really really believing in hell.

One of the best illustrations that I have come into contact works something like this. In order to really really believe in hell, you would have to foresee a future where you would live in a wonderful mansion on top of a hill. You would live with all the creature comforts that a human can enjoy, every wish and desire is met. The only drawback to the life of bliss that you are living is that there is a concentration camp at the bottom of the hill where your fellow man is being tortured day after day. That doesn't exactly sound like the life of bliss that I look forward to upon my exit from this world.

I am not saying that the existence of hell, or judgment should come under attack. I personally read the Scriptures as having clear indications that a life of rejection of God leads to personal judgment. But what I am saying is that most Christians are too quick to assume that they are in and others are out, and those who have not assented to a specific message are destined for a life of indescribable torture at the hands of God.

Really really believing in hell must bring us face to face with this reality. I wonder how many Christians have really ever thought this one through. I also wonder how many Christians have actually looked up all the references in the Scripture on hell, and asked themselves what the Scriptures actually say.

I have found that too often our visions of hell are more influenced by popular culture than they are by what the Scriptures actually say. None of this means that I don't believe in hell or judgment, but rather I would call all serious Christians to an examination of what the Scriptures actually say. And my challenge is this. To really really believe in hell you have to deal in some way with that concentration camp at the bottom of the hill.


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