I made a vague statement a few posts ago about having decided not to believe in Hell any more. I promised I'd come back to it, and have decided to do so today. When I was in high school, my best friend was Catholic. He told me once that his mother thought she was going to Hell for not believing in Hell. Isn't that a wonderful paradox?
A few months ago, I heard an oldish episode of This American Life, that spoke of Carlton Pearson, a Baptist minister from Oklahoma, coming to the conclusion that there is no Hell separate from that we have created for ourselves (and others) here on Earth. This was what solidified it for me, but there much more to it. Here goes...I cannot see the point in living your life, working and loving, sleeping and eating, running and walking, simply to achieve a place in Heaven, and thus leave an empty spot in Hell. First, there is nothing man can ever do to earn a place in Heaven. And I do believe, that under this same umbrella of grace, there is nothing man can do to take himself out of God's favor. I don't believe that this is something we earn by being in the right place, at the right time and being given the gift of knowledge of God and Christ. For so many of us, our Christianity is merely happenstance. I was born into a family that for generations had been a part of the church. I lived in a community where church was cool, and thus we went. The church I went to in college was about a 5 minute walk from my dorm, so there was no excuse for me not to go there. And the people I met there happened to be similar people to who I was at the time, and some of them have remained so. Now I am trivializing these things to make a point, but I don't discount God's hand in any of this. I'm simply saying, what if one of these things had not been so, and I had never come to know God? Is the sum of these circumstances enough to make me worthy of Heaven? Or maybe it's just that we should live our lives in love, doing what is best for our fellow man, trying to live a good life, and hope for the best. Or maybe know for the best. That God is on our side. That He loves us wholly for who we wholly are. That He has prepared a place for all of His creation. And that we will all be welcome there.