Thought I’d post this as a topic too so maybe more people would take a look at it, as I thought it might encourage or help.
With all the arguing I’ve been seeing on here lately, I thought it would be something good to share.
Well, here it is:
I’m not sure if I can agree that the majority of people who classify themselves as Christians relish the doctrine of hell… some do, I’m sure, and they are often the loudest and the most obnoxious and often get the most airtime in the public forum (which makes their number seem greater then it really is, I think), but I think the average person who believes in God and Jesus isn’t dancing a jig because of their most likely pretty vague views on hell… but then again, when it comes down to it, I can only speak with any measure of authority about my own experience.
When I believed in hell (or tried to accept it anyway), I did so because I felt I had to, that it was just a reality I had to accept and deal with (though I had no idea what that reality would look like when it actually happened, which in some way made it even more terrifying at times, when I thought of my family or my friends, or even myself, in darker moments)…
I believed it because I felt like there was no other choice in the matter, if I wanted to have any kind of relationship with God, or with Jesus… I just had to try to accept His ‘justice’ even though it didn’t make any sense to me…
And I wrestled with it… a lot.
I faced many dark days and nights agonizing, struggling, crying, screaming, hating and cussing out God (or to be more accurate, my twisted image of God), emotionally imploding and mentally cracking because of things like this…
This may not be a universal experience for all those who believe in hell, but I don’t believe it is rare.
I’ve heard enough stories of similar struggles people have had with this to know I’m far from alone in this.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that the average person in the pew (or not in the pew), though they may not experience violent depression because of their belief in hell, aren’t excited about it either.
I think many people, like C.S. Lewis, would say that if there was one doctrine that they could throw out of the Christian faith, if they had the power to do so, it would be the doctrine of hell.
But they don’t feel they have that power. They believe that, like I did, that ‘this is just how things are’ and they have to live with it, and trust God as much as they can in the face of it.
Most of us, I think, sadly, eventually become numb to it, and just don’t really think about it much anymore, which is honestly where I think I was heading in my mindset before I found out about UR.
Of course, when God comes along, like I believe He did with me, and through working in my life and my heart (and I believe in answer to all those those dark days and nights), to throw this doctrine out Himself, that’s a different story.
The fact is, people here, like Revival for instance, who believe in this doctrine, will not change their views because of anyone, including us, convincing them, no matter how eloquent or logical or profound our arguments may be.
I have tried to convince atheists and others of my faith in God at times, but thus far it really hasn’t gotten me very far at all…
When it comes down to it, like others have said here, only God Himself through His Spirit could open anyone’s eyes to this, or to anything of importance for that matter…
God may work through us to bring others to this place, or to any place He wants them to be, but ultimately it is a thing of divine grace, and not of human desire or effort…
The best things we can do, again by God’s grace and with God’s help, I think, when arguments for UR, no matter how well laid out they may be, fall flat, is to treat those on the other side of this with love, and to pray.
This is easier said than done, of course, because love is hard (like Jesus said, ‘It is hard to follow me!’), and even praying is hard sometimes, with the busyness and tiredness of our daily lives.
But then whatever love we show, and whatever prayers we bring to God, will not be shown or brought in vain.
And we can always remember that each and every person belongs to their Creator, and He is the only One who knows what to do and how to break through to them. He has broken through to me at many times and in many ways… and I’m sure He is fully capable of doing the same with anyone and everyone else, in due time.
And all of us here need this grace, need the Lord to be our helper, in this. We are all in the dark in one way or another, and we all need light to walk by.
But we can hold on to the hope that one day God will turn on the lights for everyone, and instead of finding a monster waiting to devour them, they will find a father waiting to embrace them.
And may it be so.