Monday, August 10, 2015
Well that's a helluva an idea
"Wow, Tom, that's quite a loaded term. Why do you say that?"
Tom, a vibrant 30 year old young professional, with a beautiful smile and a gifted mind, responded, "I just can't stand any sort of religious person who still believes in hell. It's absurd. It's disgusting. It's laced with hubris and idiocy."
Lisa, Tom's high school educated cousin, was chewing the remains of her hot dog at the Johnson family reunion. Tom and Lisa had been chatting about life, family, jobs, and the like for the past hour. Eventually, Lisa had turned the conversation to spiritual matters. In quick succession, Tom had cornered her on whether she believed in a literal hell or not. As soon as Lisa said yes, the conversation at hand had begun.
She looked directly into his college-educated eyes and said, "Hell is one of the greatest inducements to love in the universe. It's believing in hell, and a variety of related beliefs, that makes me quite intentional to love."
"Whatever! Hell is a judgmental and old-fashioned concept that has no place in modern thought and practice. Clearly, if there's a God at all, he or she would be loving enough to bring everyone to heaven."
"Well Tom," Lisa stuttered out, "I think an 'anything-goes' sorta God doesn't lead anyone to live or act any differently."
"Well, at least it leads to tolerance and decency," interjected Tom.
Lisa stumbled for words, then went silent for a full 30 seconds. Tom figured he'd finally put his Jesus-freak cousin in her place.
"Tom, what I've come to see is that 'the anything goes God' results in people not caring about anyone or anything."
"What do you mean, Lisa; you're not making any sense."
"Well, give me a few seconds to speak before interrupting and I'll try," Lisa remarked and then with furrowed brow thought for another half-minute in silence.
"Let me put it this way. Since I believe in hell and that people who don't get right with God go there, I make it my ambition to lovingly relate and speak to people about these matters. I want to grow in love and mercy so they can know the God of love and mercy..."
"Seriously Tom, give your dim-witted cousin a chance to finish a thought..."
"Ok, go ahead."
"Thanks cuz. Well, the opposite happens with the 'anything goes God.' If you don't think people's beliefs and actions matter for eternity, my guess is you don't care much about those people's beliefs and actions now. You'll do your own thing and they'll do theirs. Supposed 'tolerance' is the slippery slope to indifference. Believing in hell makes me anything but indifferent."
"Yeah, but who are you to say I'm going to hell or anybody else?"
"Well luckily for you and everybody else, I don't get to make that decision. God, who is just and good; He gets too. And like I said before Hell is one of the greatest inducements to love in the universe. Hell is so bad it induced God to send His only Son Jesus to come and lovingly die to provide forgiveness for all who will believe and follow Him."
"L-i-s-a, seriously, that is so narrow-minded. Jesus the only way, humph."
"Hmm...I never thought of it that way cousin. I'm just tickled there's any way at all. I'm even more tickled that I've gotten to tell you about that way right now."
Tom, at ease for the first time in the entire conversation, after a moment said, "Well, Lisa, that's a helluva an idea."