Friday, November 25, 2011


I've been struggling with faith recently.  In the spirit of being honest and true, I've decided to write about it here, because as much as I write to share my thoughts with others, I also write to explore and document my thoughts for myself.  I'll be upfront though and say that its frightening because I'm sure there will be readers, most of whom I know, love, and respect who may be saddened or offended by what I say.

I wonder sometimes if I can be a Christian and not believe in hell.  I'm not sure anything happens after we die.  To the extent that I do believe something happens, it falls into what I call the great mist theory.  In short our essence sort of dissolves and hovers over the earth, sometimes congealing with the essence of others to do good (or evil).  Its maybe a combination of believing that our ancestors look out for us and believing in angels.  In my current afterlife thoughts God allows us to continue existing, but doesn't reward or punish us.

I believe we were created for a purpose (we're each unique for a reason), that God is that creator, that Jesus is God in human form, that we should follow God's lead for our lives, but I don't think I can believe everyone who doesn't believe in Jesus is going to hell.  My God is a loving God who wants us to love God and others.  Eternal damnation just doesn't fit in the picture for me.

I know it doesn't seem right to pick and choose what you want from the Bible or any religious text, so I read on, I pray, I try to think through what I believe, but its hard.  I end up back at a question that I wrestle with often:

Do you have to believe everyone needs to be redeemed to believe in a redemptive God?

Your thoughts????? (believers and non-believers in Christianity alike)

1 comment:

Evelyn said...

You're not the first (or the last) Christian to struggle with this very question. I recently heard a podcast about a pastor who was dismissed from his church at least partially because he brought up these issues:

I know my mother has struggled with the same issue and so have many other Christians, I'm sure. In my experience, I've found that there's room in Christianity for those who question the ideas on hell or eternal damnation. Christian thought is hardly one monolithic thing and there are a myriad of opinions and traditions under the umbrella of "Christianity." So I would encourage you to continue to investigate your own heart and see where it leads you.

If you'd like the Buddhist (at least the Zen Buddhist as I understand it) perspective on this question, I'll do my best to give it: hell is real; it exists in the here and now and there are many beings (human and non-human alike) who live in hell every day. For some, it is a self-inflicted hell, for some it's a physical hell and for others it's a inner hell. As "spiritual" people, our call is to do what we can to not only liberate ourselves from suffering but to also try to relieve the suffering of all beings. Questions about what happens after we die can be interesting and perhaps useful but I do think it's important not to lose sight of the suffering that is happening now. That being said, I think it can be very beneficial for you to investigate and indeed question your own beliefs and the motivations behind them. Again, I'd encourage you to look deeply into your own heart.