Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hell or No Hell? Depends on who you deny, I guess.

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" comes to mind when I reflect on a conversation I had yesterday with "Sam" in the park. With him, the pendulum swings one way. With these guys, the pendulum swings the other . . .

"Sam" had a difficult time thinking up a small list of things he was thankful for, but was finally decisive that he was thankful for his life, for his children, for his wife and for education; however, he was not sure what God's purpose for his life was. Matter of fact, he concluded his purpose was to question his purpose! Mind you, this is a neatly dressed young man about 25 years old, walking his dog, sitting with his girl in the park. To him, God seemed to be a powerful spiritual being who pulled you through life circumstances in order to prove that He exists. To her, God was "out to get you" at first, but then is more like a "mighty being." Here's where his pendulum swings: "Sam" believes that all people everywhere should go to heaven, bad or good. "Sam" does not believe in hell. Oh, and he's Baptist. Let me relate how we got "there."

I met "Sam" and "Kim" in the park last night: I watched her enter the park alone with a blanket and finding a spot, she laid it out and took some snacks from a bag and arranged them and then sat. A few minutes later, a young man walking a dog came and they embraced, kissed and he made himself comfortable. Now, I don't like to approach women alone (ladies, do more witnessing, so us guys can do our thing with guys), but since they were a couple . . .

I approached and after introducing myself, presented my survey through which we talked. When we got to the part where I ask if they thought good people should go to heaven, "Sam" volunteered that everyone should go to heaven, bad or good.

I asked if he thought of himself as "good" or "bad." He shrugged. She laughed nervously.

I asked on what basis they considered themselves to be good or bad? He shrugged and she looked down.

I asked if they'd kept the 10 Commandments. She got excited and proudly began to list them, but when she go to #7 she faltered and they both got uncomfortable. They exchanged some very odd glances. I think I was intruding on something . . .

They admitted to lying, blasphemy, stealing, but we had a problem with lust and adultery.

I asked, "if God were to judge you by the 10 Commandments, would you go to heaven or hell." This is where "Sam" explained his eschatology.

I don't get it: When I hear people blaspheming and/or denying the existence of God, Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit, why is it they all agree they are hell-bound?

And why is it when I talk to religious people about God, Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit, many confess that God, Jesus and/or the Holy Spirit exists; yet, there seems to be a problem with the existence of Hell or the attributes of God ("He would never send anyone to hell, for He is loving" does not exactly deny hell, but it questions God).

I just had to ask "Sam": "What do you do with Revelation 21:8 and Matthew 25 (to name two passages beside so many others.)"

He stared at me. His lady-friend stared at him. I read the verses outloud. I read 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

He stared at me. His lady-friend stared at him. I asked, "what do you do with those verses."

He made a barely discernable shrug and said, "I just don't believe."

I told him, "people in hell are wishing they didn't believe in hell or could make it go away too," then added, "are you sure you havn't broken the 2nd Commandment and made for yourself a god of your own understanding, a god for your own comfort? The God of the Bible clearly created Hell for the devil and his angels and all those who fail to put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Either you believe Him, or you believe in a god that does not exist."

He just stared at me.

I was disappointed and fearful for the couple as they acknowledged their sin, their need for a Savior, yet entrenched in the belief there is no hell. At least she admitted to it's existence, and related her concern about going there, but neither would do nothing about it.

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