Wednesday, August 24, 2011
But Hell is nothing to apologize for or laugh about. It's real, it's indispensable, it's just, and—but for the inexplicable and irresistible grace of God—it's precisely what I deserve.I know a pastor that believes not in hell. I attended a prayer service on 9-11-01 at which he was one of the preachers. There was something strangely odd in his presentation that day. Thousands lay dead - true evil had been committed and witnessed by millions on television. Yet he was concerned that we "not condemn."
Evil is real, even if we don't like to talk about it. Rather than face moral reality, we redefine our evil actions to make them palatable, even sympathetic. For example, we aren't addicts; we "struggle" with porn or suffer from from the "disease" of alcoholism. We don't commit adultery; we "have affairs"—or worse—"follow our heart." We don't worship idols; we have "misplaced priorities." Sins are events we "go through" rather than evils we commit.
Our reluctance to deal with the reality of evil can extend even to the most heinous acts. Recently, here at Patheos, an otherwise thoughtful and insightful blogger equated the "religious right" with violent jihadists—the kind of people who shoot babies in the face then kill their mothers as they cradle the remains of their dead child; the kind of people who strap bombs to the bodies of mentally handicapped children and send them to American checkpoints; the kind of people who rape women and then tell them the only way to restore the family honor is to blow themselves up in a restaurant. How can a Christian writer make that comparison? By reducing the unspeakable horror of Jihad from the utter depravity that it is to the simple equivalence of "imposing their worldviews on others."
So what happens in such a case? Evil does not cease to exist - it is given reign.
We need hell if for no other reason than to realize that there is evil, and most importantly in us.