I received a forwarded email today with a short article by David L. Rattigan with the above title.
He begins with a bit of humor: So there’s these two churches I heard of down in Texas. Outside the Presbyterian Church is a sign: “There ain’t no hell.” And just down the road is the Baptist Church, with the sign outside: “The hell there ain’t!”
He makes a good case that evangelicals really don’t believe in hell.
Over the years, I’ve had the same thoughts that David has. Below are some quotes from his article:
A journalist, Mike Bryan, immersed himself in the life of a fundamentalist Bible college in the American south for a semester. . . . He makes an interesting observation:
“I had asked several people at the school why, if they believed I was so wrong in my beliefs and I am going to hell, I didnâ€™t feel this condemnation on anything but an intellectual level. Why wouldnâ€™t it interrupt a friendship and, for that matter, the whole flow of living in the wide world in which most of the people encountered were going to hell?
“In other words, these fundamentalists assented mentally to such distinctions, but their actions seemed to be informed by something much deeper. On a much more profound level (an emotional level, perhaps), these fundamentalists did not appear to recognize such a difference. This all begs the question: Did these fundamentalists really believe what they were preaching?”
We need to ask and answer Mike Bryan’s question ourselves: Do we really believe what we are preaching?
Listen to this. Here is David speaking again: If I knew that my neighbourâ€™s house was on fire and that my neighbour was tucked up in bed, oblivious to his pending doom, I would not goose-step around the issue with him, nor sit back and let the poor fellow make up his own mind. I would probably run into the house myself and positively drag him out of bed. But the attitude of so many evangelicals today who claim that a far worse fate awaits their neighbour is nothing short of complacency. Is it too much to ask, in the absence of any evidence that evangelicals are merely sadistic or cruel, whether they actually believe the very doctrine they promote so zealously?
I suppose one could respond to David by saying yes we do believe that hell is a reality–that there is a terrible eternal place of punishment but that God has allowed us to become numbed to its reality in order to keep our sanity. How else could a mother remain sane if a she believed a child had gone to hell? There would have to be some sort of numbing effect.
So the question stands: Do you really believe in hell?
David’s entire article is here.