OPINION: To believe in God, you must also accept hellLoving God and one another means that we actually care enough to not act like hell does not exist.
By: The Rev. C. Brian Bucklew, Guest columnist
Loving God and one another means that we actually care enough to not act like hell does not exist.
How unloving is it to believe that hell exists but then to not warn others to “fear him [God] who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt.10:28)? Unless, of course one does not believe in hell.
The Rev. Kristi McLaughlin either ignorantly, or by a slight of hand, tries to argue that because “Gehenna” was an actual, smoldering, fire, garbage heap, therefore there is no eternal hell. But what she fails to see is that Jesus is taking a real life, earthly place, called “Gehenna,” to try to explain a real eternal hell.
In Mt. 25:41, Jesus speaks of an eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, along with the devil’s followers. He speaks of this eternal fire as eternal punishment, in contrast to eternal life (Mt. 25:41).
Furthermore, it is not surprising that McLaughlin follows an evolutionary kind of thinking when speaking of the concept of the afterlife. She makes the claim that ancient Hebrew thought held to the idea that immortality was found through one’s offspring, and not an idea of some “place” of an afterlife.
But, at the time of Christ’s birth, there were several Hebrew sects called the Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots, and Essenes. The Sadducees denied the resurrection, not believing in the afterlife, or in angels, or in spirits, whereas the Pharisees did believe in these things (Mt. 22:23; Acts 23:8).
However, Jesus Himself did not leave the question concerning the existence of the afterlife unanswered; after all He rose from the dead. Also, Jesus acknowledged the resurrection of the dead for others. Jesus argued that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (all ancient Hebrew patriarchs) were very much alive and not dead, because God is not the God of the dead but of the living (Mt. 22:29-32).
McLaughlin, in the name of being loving, tries to attempt to be a physician of healing, without first diagnosing the disease. But a patient without any fear of a painful, suffering, deathly condition, will not see the need for the treatment of healing medicine, or a Savior.
You cannot preach people to Heaven by the Savior Jesus Christ, without first preaching hell. John the Baptist understood this (Mt. 3:12).
And furthermore, how does the Savior save us? Does He save us by simply giving us a moral example to follow, or does He save us by dying on the cross and rising again? Christendom answers with the latter.
But the real foundational problem with McLaughlin’s arguments are that they are not based on Scripture, but her own reason. She reads the Scriptures with the historical critical method of interpretation, instead of reading all Scripture as breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16).
Who decides what things evolved in Scripture, so that they are not breathed out by God, but only products of culture? By claiming that certain truths of Scripture, like the teaching of the eternal fire of punishment, are only products of Roman and Hellenistic cultures, the authority of Scripture is underminded.
That begs the question of who replaces the authority of Scripture? Who decides what is truly God-breathed Scripture and what is not?
If we decide that hell is simply only an idea of evolved thought from Roman and Hellenistic cultures, why stop there? Why not say the same thing about the virgin birth of Christ, or of the resurrection of Christ?
Maybe McLaughlin denies these as well. Before you know it we are no longer left with the real Christ, but a Christ of our own making and choosing, and that is h—- of a problem.
The Rev. C. Brian Bucklew is the pastor of the Zion and Emmaus Lutheran churches in Delmont and Tripp.