Let's talk about you and me. Let's talk about all the good friends and the people that we'll see. Let's talk about hell... (Think Salt-N-Pepa)
Seriously, this song popped into my head in the wee hours of the morning; and that's what happens when you spend too much time thinking about hell. Sorry, guys. If you thought we were finished with the family-friendly topic of eternal damnation, you were unfortunately mistaken. In my last post, Natasha Crain, author of Keeping Your Kids on God's Side, attempted to defend how a loving God can send people to hell. Now, we'll move into the lovely realm of just who deserves eternal torment, covered in Chapter 5, "How can God judge people who have never even heard about Jesus?" Don't worry. I'm sure the Bible will offer a very concise and straightforward answer to this question. Or not. As Natasha points out, "What is the answer? It's actually straightforward: We don't know for sure. That's not a cop-out. It's just an acknowledgment that the Bible doesn't explicitly tell us." While I can appreciate Natasha's honesty, it should give the Christian pause when one's holy book is so ambiguous (regarding arguably one of the most important concepts to all of humanity) that it provides no clarity in determining exactly who's going to burn and who's not.
I just want to briefly touch on the subjects of this chapter and then move on to a question that I deem much more confounding and disturbing. First, Natasha introduces the two types of revelation available to all humans, general and special revelation. General revelation describes how God has revealed himself in both our natural world and our moral conscience. Since both of these subjects have been covered in previous posts and have been demonstrated to be unfalsifiable, let's move on to special revelation, or God's revelation through supernatural means via the Bible and Jesus. Now, we need to take this very seriously because "the Bible clearly reveals that Jesus is the exclusive Savior of the world." And, once again, we know the Bible is true because the Bible says it is true, right? The Bible also revealed this special revelation:
Psalm 137:9 (ESV) Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock!
I know... Janet, you've taken this verse totally out of context! Yeah, I really don't care considering it came out of the inerrant and divinely inspired Holy Bible, which leads me to wonder if God's revelation is special or just especially grotesque. But I digress.
With this information, we should be better equipped to understand the church's stance on what happens to those who live after Jesus but don't know him, of which there are two conflicting views, restrictivism vs. inclusivism. Obviously, this all depends on one's personality, I mean one's Biblical interpretation. While a restrictivist believes that "God does not provide salvation to those who don't hear about Jesus and come to faith in Him before they die" (How charitable!), an inclusivist believes that "those who haven't heard about Jesus can be saved if they respond to god in faith based on His general revelation." (Of course, that begs the question for the necessity of missionaries.) Natasha provides Bible verses that unsurprisingly offer support of both views. Hmm...I wonder how many denominations sprang up over these -isms? No worries. Natasha reassures us that in the end, God will be fair. Given God's track record, I wouldn't take any solace in that statement. So much for Paul's assurance, too:
1 Corinthians 14:33 (ESV) 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
So, here's my question. What I really want to know, what perplexes me to no end, is what it takes for a human being to be desensitized enough to feel completely confident and at ease in discussing not only why people deserve hell but also who deserves hell? And then I remembered a video that had a profound impact on me as I was deconverting. What type of person can be so self-righteous, simply because they were born on the right continent and indoctrinated into the right religion?