The concept of Hell is one of the most sickening aspects of Christianity. It is closely linked to another sickening aspect: salvation by grace alone.
Let me explain how this works. If you have been to church enough times to understand it, skip down a couple of paragraphs.
Our sins separate us from God. Jesus’s death paid for our sins, so now we can be with God: Romans 6:23 (NIV) “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ of Lord.” Unless, we don’t accept Jesus. Then we go to Hell and burn forever: Matthew 13:50 (ESV) “And throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
It doesn’t matter what we do, good works can never get us to Heaven, because we will never be good enough. Salvation is gained through Jesus paying for our sins and us asking for forgiveness and having faith: Ephesians 4:8-9 (NIV) “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.”
I was always taught that this is what makes Christianity better than other religions. It is about a relationship, not religion (works and practices). God came and saved us, we don’t have to work our way up to him. Now, I am thinking that it makes Christianity a lot worse than other religions because it means that no matter how bad you are, you can get into Heaven, and no matter how good you are, you can still end up in Hell. Where is the justice in that?
If Hitler had accepted Jesus right before he killed himself he would have ended up in Heaven, just like the murderer on the cross next to Jesus. Mahatma Gandhi, who worked all his life for a better world and future for his people will end up in Hell because he was a Hindu. He believed in the religion of his people and country that he loved so dearly and therefore he deserves Hell. Huh?
If you can’t see the injustice here, something is wrong with your morality. This video is a great illustration:
I don’t even like the idea of my own sins being paid for by someone else. I want to take responsibility for my own actions, even if that means death or torture. I cannot allow someone else to take the punishment and pretend that it’s okay. Sure, it was very loving and kind for Jesus to die for my sins, but I can’t accept his love if he won’t give me justice.
I think that if Jesus is only going to pay for anyone’s sins, then it should not be those who believe in him, but should be those who love others most fully and who have lived lives that have contributed positively to the world. That is so much more valuable than believing the right thing!
Another problem with Hell is unfair punishment. I believe that wrongs should be paid for. But Hell is a place of eternal punishment, not proportional justice. None of us deserve to be tortured in the burning fires of Hell for eternity! Not even the most evil mass murderer rapist asshole. Maybe they deserve a hundred years of torture, but it stops somewhere. It does not go on indefinitely.
Not all Christians believe in eternal punishment of course. Many view it as eternal separation from God, which means eternal separation of love, which is effectively torture. Others are annihilists who believe nonbelievers will be destroyed. Some are universalists who believe everyone will be saved in the end. The above version of Hell, however, is widely accepted in my community and so I am addressing it. It is also the version that needs to be strongly opposed in every respect, moreso than the other, less dehumanising versions. Even if I accepted a softer view of Hell, I cannot accept Jesus paying for my own sins for which I am responsible, and I cannot accept salvation by grace alone, with no consideration for the good/bad things one has done in their lifetime.