Since I was young, I have always been interested in the spiritual. I was always hoping to catch a glimpse of a ghost and wondered if I was going to Heaven.
As a Baby, I was baptized as a Catholic, but never really took an interested in the church itself while growing up. I found it boring at the time. It was the only religion I was familiar with up until I was twelve when I first became involved with the Pentecostals. I said a prayer and apparently, I was saved. I didn’t really stick with it then.
Again, at the age of 16, I got involved with the Pentecostals and even went to one of their camps. I witnessed for the first-time people fainting and uncontrollable laughter. I asked what was going on and was told that people were being “slain in the spirit.” I again said the salvation prayer but never got slain in the spirit like everyone else. At the time, it made me feel like I was not good enough for God. Again I left the church.
However, again I returned in my early twenties. It was during this period that I took my faith seriously and studied the Bible constantly. I wanted to go into ministry and travel. I wanted people to get saved and understand the Bible. I saw those who disagreed with me as being dangerous heretics. I would spend hours in debate tossing Scriptures back and forth. I disagreed with pastors on certain issues and was even kicked out of a church for not agreeing with their doctrines. Then chaos entered my life, and I removed myself from the church and studied on my own. A lingering question continued to haunt me which ended up being my first nudge out of Christianity.
What the Hell?
The question was, “Why would a merciful, loving God create mankind, and then send individuals to hell for not figuring out that Jesus is Lord and Savior within their lifetime?” I attempted to find solid answers for this but there was no good excuse for god to do this.
What kind of Parent would do this?
I had kids by this time and I believe I am a loving father. I may discipline my kids with grounding, but I still love them. There is nothing they could do to cause me to allow them to suffer through any kind of torment. If you are a parent, would you allow your children to be tormented for the rest of their life if you had the power to stop it? I think any loving parent would say “no.” You might be thinking, “but I believe in Universal salvation, or annihilation.” I have researched both and hope to get to that at some point. Right now, I want to focus on the idea of eternal torment since that seems to be the prominent belief in Christendom.
Imagine a man named Casey who wanted to married a girl named Lynn. One day, Casey comes to Lynn and asks her to marry him. He offers to give her everything: riches, a nice house, a position of power, children, and whatever else she wishes for. However, he then informs her that if she does not accept his proposal that he has a place for her reserved in his basement to torment her for the rest of her life. Can you honestly think Casey truly loved Lynn? I doubt it!
Torture vs. Torment
Some will object and say that torture is different from torment. Torture is more related to physical pain while torment is more psychologically based. I have come across both beliefs when it comes to being in hell for eternity. There are several Christians out there that believe souls are going to be physically tortured for eternity with fire, with worms gnawing through their bodies, along with various other kinds of torture. Some believe actual demons do the torturing and that there is no escape from this hell.
To sum things up, many of these people believe that you must follow the proper formula for salvation or this kind of torture is awaiting you. One church may say that a person simply has to believe that Jesus is his Savior. Others believe that water baptism is necessary. Some believe that if you continue in certain sins, even while believing that one will still enter into eternal torment. It varies depending on the church.
I must be choosing to go to hell
At the same time, these people believe that God is loving and merciful. I ask, what kind of God, who is all powerful, would allow for people to be stuck in this pit for eternity? You might say that people choose to go to hell. They are offered the choice to accept or reject Christ and by rejecting Christ, they will go to hell by their own choosing. However, the problem is much more complicated than choosing to go to hell. The problem is, the answers are not definite.
There is no proof that there is a hell for not worshiping God. It is based on belief. Imagine a man that only could communicate to his father by having other people intervene. He receives letters that are claimed to be from his father, even though they were written by other people. He probably would have a hard time knowing his father and his plans. He may eventually even question whether his father is real or not being that the only evidence he has are from the letters.
It is similar with the Bible and believing in God. We are required to believe what man has written down in order to escape this place called hell. The Bible is confusing. I say this because there are several denominations out there that have different viewpoints of how salvation is obtained and interpretations of the Bible, but they all claim the Bible as their source of Authority.
Trust No Man (and I don’t mean Eowyn)
Psalms 118:8 says “[It is] better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. “ The Bible itself tells us not to put our confidence in man. So how are we supposed to put our confidence in an ancient book that was written by men, translated by men, and so on? How are we supposed to know the Bible is the Word of God? We can’t know that. Even the personality of God in the Bible has many problems which I will write about later.
With that being said, unbelievers do not choose to go to hell. They simply do not believe in the existence of hell. Regardless whether hell is considered torture or torment, it is a very cruel punishment. Psychological torment can be quite difficult to deal with. Remember, the threat that is often given by the religious community is that one will be tortured or tormented for eternity. What kind of God would allow for this kind of suffering? How is this justice? How is god just for allowing this sort of thing? I have not come across one good answer for this.
I feel that the belief in hell can be psychological damaging and is often used to control and manipulate people. If one truly believes in hell, how can they deal with the idea that many people they know and love will be going to hell for eternity. When I was a Christian, I was very tormented with this idea. I eventually found it impossible to love a god that was going to allow people that I love to be sent to hell forever.
Stop worrying! You are Safe
Be reassured. Hell is a myth created in order to frighten people into obedience. Be a good person because it is the right thing to do, not because you want to escape hell. I will probably edit this post several times as I remember more things I want to put so feel free to visit back often.