Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Unveiling the Myth of Hell and Eternal Torment, Part 1

Part 1 – A Brief Backdrop of My Journey

I have appropriately used the word “unveiling” in the title to this series about hell because God is the One who must lift the veil or pull back the curtain for us to see any truth.  And that’s precisely what He has done for me and continues to do on a daily basis.  

“A man cannot get anything if it should not 
be given him out of heaven.”
(John 3:17, CLNT)

The Backdrop

Please bear with me for a moment while I set a very brief backdrop of my spiritual journey.

In some of my previous posts on this site, I have made mention to the fact that I no longer believe in hell and eternal torment.  But, I used to. 

The belief in hell and eternal torment was what was taught to me as part of my Christian faith for most of my life.  When I was 14 years old, a friend of mine asked me if I knew where I was going when I died.  I had no idea what she meant.  I assumed I would go to straight to heaven.  She asked me if I had asked Christ to be my Savior and went on to say that if I had not, I would go to hell and if I had, then I would go to heaven.  Too embarrassed to admit I couldn’t recall ever doing such a thing, I told her I thought I had asked Him and left my friend’s home that day feeling scared, upset, and confused.  I had known about hell but never imagined I would be sent there!  As I rode my bicycle home, I decided I was not about to go to hell and be horribly tormented for eternity after I died. 

Eternity is a really long time. 

For the first 14 years of my life, I had been brought up to believe in God and in Jesus Christ but couldn’t remember ever specifically asking Christ to be my Savior.  During the first 9 years of my life living in Puerto Rico (my native land), my family had been part of the Catholic church.  My parents sent me to a private Catholic school run by nuns and sent me to first communion classes, after which I experienced my first communion ceremony.  When I was 9 years old, my family moved to the states and left our ties to the Catholic church.

The night after having that hell or heaven conversation with my friend when I was 14 years old, I prayed a prayer to assure that I would be heaven bound.  I prayed that prayer mostly out of uncertainty and fear, not so much out of love or devotion for God and Christ.  I prayed that prayer as an insurance policy against hell.  That prayer did not bring about a miraculous change in my life, in my choices, or in my love for God and Christ.  God remained for me a distant and far removed entity.  He was someone I called out to when I was desperate for help or scared out of my mind.  I moved on from that night and that prayer to spend the next 10+ years of my life doing my own thing, living life the way I wanted to live, without much thought about the consequences of countless foolish actions and choices, and not giving much thought to God or Christ.  During all that time, He never stopped thinking about me, loving me, and working His way in my life. 

About four and a half years after that night, I married and three years later began having children.  In 1994, as I became a stay at home mom to raise my children, a neighbor invited me to her church and to the church’s Mothers of Preschoolers group.  The church was a Baptist church teaching mainstream Christian doctrines and beliefs.  As our family began ever so slowly to be part of that church, my love for God and Christ began to grow along with my faith.  And my faith and my love grew and grew.  By 1996, my heart was completely abandoned to God and Christ.  I immersed myself in church fellowship, activities, ministry, and Bible studies.  I became passionate about Bible study and about knowing God.  I couldn’t get enough and found great satisfaction delving into serious study of the Bible and of God’s character by doing Bible studies written by others or pursuing my own personal studies.  Eventually, I led women’s Bible study groups and wrote my own studies. 

In 2002, God began an intense spiritual work within me.  What happened between 2002 and 2005 is worthy of its own post, and I will not go into it here.  I’ll simply say that it was an extensive preparation for where I would find myself in 2005.  In 2005, as I continued to seek to know God more intimately, a sudden shift occurred and God took me on an unexpected adventure.  God brought before me the possibility that the concept of hell that had been taught to me, and which I had also taught to others, was not true after all.  He led me on this adventure to seek, research, and study the subject of hell.  I fought against any other possibility besides the one I had believed for so long.  I resisted.  I argued with Him.  And God was unrelenting and would not let me turn away from it.  I was convinced the people who didn’t believe in hell were misguided and confused.  I set out to prove that hell was a very real place of very real torment.  I set out to prove it true, and God proved me wrong.  He revealed otherwise.  It took about a year and a half of serious and persistent study and prayer to completely convince me (without any shadow of a doubt) that what I had believed for so long and what had been so foundational to my Christian faith was not true after all.  It took another year and a half after that for God to conquer my fears and lead me to speak out for the first time on this site. 
Coming to a real understanding of the lie of hell rocked my faith and my world.  It was very scary at first, but I’m thankful I pushed past the fears and walked the path God set me on.  The adventure has continued on since that time with me coming to a better understanding of more things about God and His ways which had not made sense to me before.  It’s a continuous journey, and I’m always learning.

It has not been a joy ride believing differently than the majority of Christians.  Some who had called themselves my Christian “friends” have said very hurtful things, turned their backs, and completely abandoned relationship with me.  I’ve had Christians doubt I’m Christian at all.  And some might even believe I’m doomed to hell because I don’t believe in it!  Let them do what they must do and believe about me what they must.  The truth is that I am a believer in Jesus Christ.  Not only is He my Savior but also the Savior of all mankind.  THAT is the real good news (gospel)!  I will continue to follow God and learn from Him through Christ.  God is my teacher.  I will continue to seek Him and seek to know Him more intimately.  And I will continue to speak about His greatness, His truths, and the truth of His character as He reveals Himself to me.  I want to also add that I have also had more Christian friends who, while not agreeing with my views on hell, find our relationship more important than my views on hell and choose to focus on where we do have common ground—in Christ, in life, in friendship, and in being human beings walking through life together.


As for me, I continue to follow, believe, and trust the “…God, Who wills that all mankind be saved and come into the realization of the truth.  For there is one God, and one Mediator of God and mankind, a Man, Christ Jesus, Who is giving Himself a correspondent Ransom for all (the testimony in its own eras)…”  (1 Timothy 2:4-6, CLNT)

So now that I’ve set the backdrop, let’s get on to our discussion about hell…

Related posts:
Unveiling the Myth of Hell and Eternal Torment, Part 2
The Tear Down, Tear Out Lesson
About That Brain of Ours...

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