Colin's Wise Wednesday - 11th December 2019

Does hell really exist?

A few weeks ago I asked: “Does God really exist”, now I ask the opposite question, does hell really exist? Please bear in mind that this devotion does not necessary reflect the views of HillSide Methodist Community Church.

We had a lady in our Bible Study group who was worried about what would happen to her husband when he died. He was a good man but did not believe in God, this is something that we have wrestled with for years, nobody really knows the answer. I read a book recently, The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr.  His interpretation of hell has made me look at things in a different light and makes me a lot more relaxed.  This is what he says:   One of the biggest stumbling blocks to a better understanding of the cross and resurrection is the prevailing notion of God the Father as a punisher in chief who consigns sinners to eternal torment and torture instead of one of life itself.

Richard says that this originated in some misinterpreted scriptures, largely the gospel by Matthew, who likes to end with threats and also from a phase in the Apostles Creed: Jesus “descended into hell”. ..so surely there must be one?  Let’s read what Pope Benedict has to say: He admits that the phase “descending into hell” in the Apostles Creed is problematic, confusing, and based on mythological language. He concludes that if Christ indeed went there, He would have stopped its function just as He did when He “harrowed” the money changes in the Temple. Hell and Christ cannot coexist, he seems to say.  We must see Jesus as triumphing over hell and empting it out. 

I just love these interpretations of the scriptures, don’t you? I have never been able to imagine Jesus being in hell for 3 days. To “clean” it up I can live with that and that fits into my picture of a loving God. I battle to accept that God who sent His Son to save us and set us free, Who died on the cross for our sins and rose again to conquer death, would still condemn us to hell. How could heaven be enjoyed while some loved ones are being tortured in hell?

Richard closes off the chapter by saying: No Gospel will ever be worthy of being called “good news” unless it is indeed a win-win worldview and “good news for all people” Luke 2:10

Thought to ponder: Infinite love, mercy and forgiveness are hard for the human mind to even imagine, so most people seem to need a notion of hell to maintain their logic of retribution, just punishment and a just world as they understand it. God does not need hell but we sure seem to.

Let’s pray: Father we don’t need to be frightened into loving you, You are a God of infinite love we love You because You first loved us. In Jesus name we pray with so much love and so much thanksgiving. Amen.

Gog bless and take care ~ Lyn & Colin

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