There has been an increase in discussions among christians about heaven and hell lately, mainly in response to a video preview of Rob Bell’s new book called Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
. Gary Sigler made an insightful comment:
“If there was a literal hell where God made anyone suffer for eternity then he would be worse than a Hitler. He would be a monster to create a place where some of His creation could suffer eternally.
People believe this because that is what they have been taught. There have been some parents that believed this doctrine that have killed their children before the age of accountability so they couldn’t go to hell.
This doctrine is a pagan doctrine adopted by the Church to keep people in bondage to religion. When my wife left the Catholic church after being in the convent they told her she would go to hell if she left.
God is unconditional love and as such He could never let anyone suffer eternally.”
Some common questions have been asked by evangelical christians, and below are my responses (based on my understanding of the gospel so far):
Q: If Jesus didn’t die to save us from ‘hell’ or ‘eternal damnation/separation from God’, why did the disciples risk their lives for the gospel?
A: Eternal life (lived in knowledge of God’s love and one’s true identity and living in freedom) is worth more than physical life (that is lived in ignorance and illusion).
– In the first century context, they were also warning the Jews about the impending destruction of Jerusalem near the end of the old covenant age.
Q: If everyone will go to ‘heaven’ or will be with God after they die regardless of whether they believe in Jesus, why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
A: Jesus died to include all humankind in His death and resurrection and awaken us to our new identity, setting us free from condemnation (in our conscience) and fear (due to erroneous concept of God). He came to renew our minds, to repent (change our mind) and realise that the kingdom of God (righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit) is within us instead of outside of us.
Q: Wasn’t Jesus’ suffering on the cross caused by the judgement and wrath of God that He bore on our behalf as a penalty for our sins?
A: No, it wasn’t penal substitution. It was identification with humanity. The cross is where our old Adamic self was crucified with Him. When He rose from the dead, we were raised together with Him as new creations. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22) The moment we awaken to our true identity, we realise we are one with God and we are also gods sharing His divine nature (John 10:34) – we become truly alive.