By: Jana Greene
Let’s talk about eternal damnation in the fiery furnace we like to call “Hell.” Because apparently, if you don’t believe that God would punish his very own children forever and ever (amen) in the modern-day definition of Hell, you are a sorceress. File this under “Huh. Who knew?”
When I stopped preaching that a loving God would damn his children to the eternal, conscious, tormenting flames of Hell, all sorts of accusations come ‘a flying. And on really special days, you sometimes wake up to people accusing you of witchcraft on social media!
You see, I got on Facebook to scroll-about as I enjoyed my coffee this morning, when what to my wandering eyes should appear but a witch hunt afoot directed right here! Yep. Toward me, ya girl.
Here’s the thing. God gave us brains to THINK. All my life I believed what I was raised to believe. I’ve read the Bible a few times. I know what it says. I’ve also studied the original Greek and Hebrew texts, which take into account the literal meanings of the scripture we like to beat each other up with. Also, taking into consideration the sociopolitical climate of the day, especially in the Old Testament.
It ain’t like I’m pulling this outta nowhere. It’s been six years of delving and praying and researching the roots of the concept of Hell. The church of Acts is unrecognizable to most churches in modern times, but it would behoove all of us to study it and emulate it.
I came away with wrestling with God to find he is so much more wonderful than I’d ever imagined. And that when I get to heaven, I don’t have to hide behind Jesus’s garment to avoid an angry, vengeful God. ANYTHING that can be in ANY way construed as “New Age” (a reaalllly broad term,) is considered witchcraft?
I’m sorry but when did we give away our mysticism? What is more mystical than the Creator of the Universe coming in skin and flesh to our environment to show us how to love? New Age it is, then, I suppose.
I came out of this study free of my fear-based relationship with God. And opened my heart to the possibility that He is only ever good. I think we need to stop scaring people into loving Jesus, and just represent Jesus to the best of our abilities.
You would think that because of what I believe, I’m “gambling” with my own eternal soul because I that’s how strongly I feel about the inclusive gospel of grace. A gospel that came from Jesus himself. Don’t get me wrong – there is a hell. I’ve been there. Plenty of it here on this planet, just look around. But is it Dante’s Inferno? Does my loving Papa, invisible to the naked eye, send us to Earth to try to figure out if He is real or not, so that if we get it wrong, into the lake of fire we go? I don’t believe that anymore.
But nobody likes to pigeonhole a person more than an Evangelical Christian. I know, because I was one for most of my life.
I’m of the mind that when it was said that every knee shall bow, every knee shall bow. When he said it is finished, it is finished.
THAT, I take literally.
Hell as we think we know it was popularized in the Medieval period as a way to keep the church in line. The masterpiece Dante’s Inferno also helped lend to the idea – it’s what culture “sees” hell as. God did not create us to bring us here to doom us if we don’t say magical words or we screw up. My God, what kind of father would that be?
He is in all, and all are in him. Some just don’t know it yet.
My question since my faith reconstruction is this: It’s actually pretty creepy how much time Christians spend fixating on Hell. And some of them get VERY upset if you take away their eternal torment thing. It took me years to let go of my Hell concept, so sure was I that people I loved would be cast into the fire and brimstone if they don’t get their shit together. Which, of course, leaves no wiggle room for grace, which is kind of the whole point.
Ditto giving Satan too much credit. We are always spiritually exhausted because we are fighting a battle that has already been won. Whatever is good, think on these things. Can you imagine how many hearts would open to Jesus if his children weren’t constantly threatened with being thrown in a lake of fire? Holy cow.
Bottom line: You have to do your own research and come to your own conclusion, either way, God is not mad at you. Ask Holy Spirit to help. She is willing and able (and yes, I refer to Holy Spirit in the feminine because of the nurturing and gentle care taking she provides for my spirit. Also, spirits are gender-less. They are SPIRITS, not people.)
Of course this is all just my two cents and I’m sure some of you are dooming me to “hell” right this very minute. But that’s okay. We all gotta figure it out for ourselves.
I promise you that if you want to know what God is like, look no further than Jesus – not the other way around. Consider the cultural of the people who lived in Biblical times. It’s okay to think.
I could touch on so many other points, and likely will. In the meantime, God loves you. I love you. Namaste and God bless.
As far as God and I?