The Irony of Hell

If the only thing keeping you out of hell is a fear of hell, then you’re not actually escaping hell. Conversely, if the only thing that moves you toward heaven is a fear of hell, then your are not really seeing heaven, and are therefore not likely to enter in.

6 Responses to “The Irony of Hell”

  1. Roger Green  

    agreed.

  2. K.L.B.  

    There are some Baptists, Calvinists and others whom would take exception to those remarks.

    I understand, I believe, that you mean to express that ‘if love is not the motivating factor, what’s the point?’

    One doesn’t NOT love one’s spouse simply because one is afraid s/he will go to other lovers if one does not love the other.

    There is no fear in love, and perfect love casts out all fear.

    It is the phrase “not likely to enter in,” which gives me pause for thought. Because in acknowledging the possibility of entrance, it means it could occur. However, the joy in living this life – as I believe we should – is absent.

    As B.B. King so famously sings, “the thrill is gone.”

    Yet, what shall we do with Jonathan Edwards’ famously classic sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an angry God”?

    Moreover, what shall we say of the prophet John the Baptist, whom is recorded to have asked, “You children of serpents! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?” Luke 3:7b (ISV) [See also Matthew 3:7]

    One must have knowledge of the other before anger is present, or can exist. In other words, a relationship must be present.

    I recall reading the remarks a child made, saying, “You can’t hurt me. I don’t even like you!”

    A loving relationship must – at some point – exist before the dread of fear has any effect.

    Children love their parents. Yet do they fear their scorn (a type of punishment), or worse (physical punishment) for acts of disobedience? I never wanted any of the spankings I ever received as a child. Yet I undoubtedly earned them by exercising my self will over the will of my parents. I did not stop loving them, nor they me.

    Love must be greater and stronger – and in the case of the Almighty’s love through Christ, we know it is – in order for love to win over fear.

    The “really seeing heaven,” part is, I trust, understanding that portion of beneficence (forgiveness, if you prefer) which is again, fully comprehended (or experienced).

  3. Simon  

    Where’s Alanis Morrissette when you need her.

  4. Kevin Benson  

    Lately I have been thinking more and more of salvation as a journey and less as a moment in time. I wonder how this fits in with your comments. If one’s journey begins with only a fear of hell does that mean that one will not ultimately enter in? Perhaps a person’s latest step on the journey was from no belief in the hereafter to a simple belief and fear of hell. This is still a step on the journey in the right direction. I think of George MacDonald’s illustration in The Princess and Curdie. Curdie is given the gift of knowing whether a person is moving towards beasthood or true humanity simply by grasping that person’s hand. Curdie is repeatedly taken aback when what he experiences through touch is far removed from appearance, simply because that person’s journey is in its infancy.

  5. Anthony Velez  

    Kevin Benson – I like your comment overall, and particularly your point that a fear of hell is for some a step in the right direction. In wrestling with the nature of salvation I remember one time thinking about the death of Stevie Ray Vaughn, who, as the story goes, died in a plane crash not long after turning his life around, as seen by living clean and sober. I was struck by this because it was hard for me to uphold the traditional Evangelical idea that Stevie died lost because he did not follow Christ. All I could think was that if this is true it certainly seems to de-signify moral choice all together.

    I realize there is no hope for redemption if left to ourselves, but as I was processing SRVs death and other scenarios like his, I was wondering if anytime someone turns from something destructive to something life giving if that couldn’t be seen as the fruit of Christ’s Spirit working upon that person. Sure, it is not a full blown confession of faith, but as you say, it is a step in the right direction.

  6. K.L.B.  

    The Scripture indicates God’s ways are higher than our ways, and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

    Somewhat similarly to you, Anthony, not too long ago, I discovered a musical artist whom many might argue, died upon the cusp of greatness. Josh Clayton-Felt, was felled by cancer at age 32, on January 19, 2000, less than a month after entering the hospital. “When Spirit Touches Ground,” was his last album after touring with Tori Amos.

    As well, I know of a fellow musician in Muscle Shoals, AL, who also similarly died upon the cusp of greatness. Chris Quillen, founder of “The Fiddleworms,” an eclectic Southern-rock band promoted by legendary producer Jerry Wexler, died at age 39 in Florence, AL May 26, 1996 after his small car hit a telephone pole. Not wearing a seat belt, he was killed instantly by a blow to his head.

    Sharing the stage with Santana, Government Mule and the Allman Brothers Band, The Fiddleworms were called among the best unsigned bands in the country, and major record labels were interested in signing their blends of “60′s Shoals and San Francisco sounds.”

    The group he helped found released their first album, “Yellowhammer” shortly after his death, and not too long thereafter, disbanded. Having regrouped, they released “Year of the Cock” in 2005, “Live Bait” in 2007 and “Volkswagen Catfish” in 2008.

    But more to the point of your question.

    You asked, “I was wondering if anytime someone turns from something destructive to something life giving if that couldn’t be seen as the fruit of Christ’s Spirit working upon that person.”

    In as far as we are creative beings, our capacity to do so, is in part, a reflection of Him. When our creative capacities are diminished through self-destructive behavior, such as abuse of drugs, or excessive alcohol consumption, we and others suffer.

    In the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Twelfth Step states in part, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps…”

    Man is a spiritual creature as well as a physical creature. I have analogized thusly: God is the Father of all of humanity, insofar as He created us. However, it is our deliberate act of denial and subsequent lack of fellowship which damns us.

    Even if, as a child, I were to deny that Travis (my dad’s name) were my father, it would not and could not change the fact that he is. At the point in time when I acknowledged that he was my father, the only thing that would change would be the character, nature and quality of our relationship.

    So it is with humanity. Our relationship with the Father is brought to us by Jesus Christ, the mediator.

    The self-destructive plight of humanity most often comes from our own lack of attentiveness to our spiritual nature and neglect of relationship with the Father.

    When properly restored, creativity – or as you write, “something life giving” – ensues.