I was discussing some biblical things last night with my youngest daughter and I told her one of the turning points in my beliefs about God and the outcome of man was this one: If hell is eternal conscious torment forever (I know tat is redundant!), and it is the most horrible outcome that a person could suffer, why didn’t God tell Adam and Eve about it? All we have recorded on this important topic of what would happen if they sinned was that in the day they sinned they would surely die. Not one word about hell. We have a few words about the pain they would suffer in this life and the fact that they would one day die physically, but not one word on hell. Curious, isn’t it?
If you answer that in the Old Testament everyone who died went to Gehenna, or Abraham’s bosom, a kind of holding place or, if you will, a kind of purgatory, (not the Catholic one where people are waiting to progress into a better state due to prayers and giving of their still alive loved ones) why didn’t God command the New Testament authors to include hell as part of their preaching of the Gospel. I have heard preachers say that the Good News (of the Gospel) can’t be good unless there is also some bad news for those who refuse the good. Not one of the sermons by the Apostles nor any of the recorded disciples in the New Testament ever warn us about hell for those who do not accept the Gospel of Christ.
Yes, I know the hell-teachers of today will quote many verses that they support the teaching of eternal conscious torment ( I have addressed many if not all of them in my book review series that is still incomplete, Hell Under Fire on this blog). However, why don’t they ever offer some explanation of why we teach the “turn or burn” Gospel today? Why did that come up and where did it begin (hint: go back to the days of Augustine, because I think we have him to thank for it, though it was not really taught before him, and yes, the soon-to-be Roman Catholic church took his teachings and ran with them for awhile)? For awhile I thought pretty highly of Augustine, especially when I was so steeped in more traditional reformed theology. However, after re-considering who Augustine was, looking over seminary notes on church history and reading many other church history works, Augustine was not, and is not, someone we want to hang our theology on! I encourage you to read about his life and decide for yourself if it was wise historically to put so much trust in his teaching.
Anyway, just wanted to give you some food for thought on this Monday morning. Have a blessed day and remember, we are free in Christ to relish the grace given to us and to give it out super-abundantly to others. For you believers, the summary of our lives in Christ is this; we confess Jesus is Lord, we love God with all our being, and we love our neighbor as ourselves (as we want to be loved). Much more than that is typically legalism run amok!
Blessings to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!