How hell became a metaphor
The 60s marked a transformation in people’s attitudes. After fighting the Nazis and battling the Viet Cong, after seeing families split up and destroyed, the people despised everything related to war and violence.
The hippie movement compensated for the traumas in the past and swung in the opposite direction. From there on, we based our thinking on rejection force and violence.
We brought this attitude over into all areas of life, including our faith. 58% of the US population rejects hell as a physical place. It is just too cruel to be real.
So we transformed it into a metaphor. A dead learning experience aimed at our morals rather than our soul.
We trust our own logic without asking questions. “It’s good enough if I believe it, even better when I get confirmed by others. No need to ask further questions because it’s obvious that I’m right.”
We accept flawed arguments because they confirm what we already believe. There’s no need to dig deeper because we’ve found the “truth”.
It’s a guy’s best stab at a subject he didn’t study. Since we are unaware of the complexities and nuances that go into a field, we can simplify it in our mind and call it “easy”.
Not what it should be
Imagine painting your wall with a paint roller. The goal is to have an even one-colored surface. You don’t want any streaks or marks.
So what do you gonna do? If a guy has never done it before, he’ll just cover the wall with paint. He’ll go as close to the ceiling as possible without touching it and hope for the best.
When the paint is still wet, an untrained eye would call it good. But the streaky mess would be obvious to everyone the next day.
What seemed logical wasn’t logical anymore. What made sense really didn’t because our guy didn’t know all the factors that play a role in this game.
He didn’t know that he should apply only light pressure and he didn’t realize that the lines have to be straight. And we won’t even go into using a primer, cutting in or brush sizes.
Our guy took something complex and for lack of knowledge turned it into something simple. He used his logic to connect the little things he knew in his mind and called is simple. But the result speaks of his ignorance.
The common threat
This happens across industries and professions. From graphic design, PR and management over to engineering, software development, and research. And it reaches religion, too. More particular, our understanding of hell.
How can a guy, even though educated, argue against the existence of hell if he knows nothing about it?
Well, it seems simple, doesn’t it? A devil ruling a dark place in the middle of the earth seems rather brutal. Especially for the 21st century Jesus our culture created. A loving dude who always has a smile on his face and is buddy-buddy with everyone.
A guy who doesn’t offend and is fine with Buddha and Mohammed since all religions are love and point towards God.
And besides, how could a loving God send anyone to place that horrible? It feels unnatural.
It doesn’t seem right.
So which standard are we referring to? We stripped God from his righteous place as ruler and creator and replaced him with our intellect. We put ourselves above God and now we’re judging him for doing things his way.
Minds in shambles
Our logic is flawed. Jesus has nothing to do with how modern culture portrays him. Read the book of revelation. Or even just the gospels. Read Isaiah if you’re bold. How does Jesus’s white garments drenched in his enemies blood fit into your puny-sweetheart-Jesus-theology?
Hell is not where he sends us, it’s where an unrepentant heart chooses to go. We see God as an African warlord, sending people to hell with a roaring laughter and enjoyment as they realize they should have repented.
But he’s a God who honors our decision. He pursued us during our lives on this earth. He never stopped to give us opportunities to come back to him.
But with death, our decision is final. We will spend eternity either with him or without him.
Everything good in this world comes from the Lord. The beauty of nature, man’s ability to create and live, pleasure and fulfilling relationships. And all the other good things you can think of. Name anything, it’s all a gift from by God.
Now take it all away. I’m talking good meals, a good night of sleep, fresh air and the cooling wind on a summer night. Those are all blessings that will be gone if you are without God.
Now add the bad stuff. The torment. The agony. The demons.
Now that’s hell. Separation from God, exactly what you chose.