Sunday, June 25, 2006

Believe it all

Just recently I was asked for the appropriate response to a person who does not believe in a literal hell. This person suggested, like many others, that the “hell” of scripture is merely a metaphor for separation from God. My answer a the time was that this belief comes from a low view of Scripture that gives little authority to the Bible as the infallible Word of God.

Upon further reflection, I wish to expound upon that with more depth. As I pondered this situation last night (while mowing the lawn) it became clear to me that a belief in heaven requires no more or less faith or imagination than a belief in a literal hell. The only difference is that heaven is a pleasing thought while the other is terrifying. I went on to deduce that belief in heaven and not hell comes from a distorted view of the human condition and a limited view of God and his inspired word. Thus, to accept belief in heaven and reject belief in hell is to apply only the portion of scripture which seems agreeable and to reject that which is not pleasing as “metaphor” or even human error.

Obviously, this view is not in accordance with scripture. This belief is as John Broadus said of the argument for Postmortem salvation, “this doctrine did not arise from ambiguity in the Bible, but from a nineteenth century humanist concept of fair play.” This concept of fair play suggests that a “good God” would send no one to hell. However, the concept of fair play has nothing to do with the goodness of God. The pre-requisite understanding of the above position is that people do not deserve hell; but the fact of the matter is that people do deserve hell because of the sin in their life.

Unfortunately, this position has found its greatest adherents in the church among the members of predominantly liberal mainline denominations. It should sadden all in the Christian world that many of these denominations are of the reformed tradition. The reformers held a high view of God, His word, and of the depravity of mankind. Liberal theology in the form of the rejection of biblical inspiration and infallibility has led many down the dark path of demise.

God’s word is truth. That truth is to be the standard by which all of humanity is measured. By elevating secular ideas to the level of truth in opposition to the word of God, the world, and liberal theology has made God, the Creator, subservient to the ideas and observations of man, the creation.

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