The Concept of Hell in Modern Christianity
The question of life after death was always connected with human civilization: some great thinkers claim that the main basis of every religion is the cult of ancestors; others try to explain the nature of morality as behavior, which helps mortal one to not be punished after death. Every culture, every religious system and mythological tradition, many prominent philosophers in some respect are concerned about this important and very difficult theme. to understood this theme more I used history essay writer https://essayscreator.com/history-essay.html help. In Christianity, death plays a very important role, because one of the fundamental parts of its teaching is the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection, through which death (human mortal nature) was defeated, and every true Christian, every believer became immortal – obedient Christians do not die after their physical bodies die. These people go to Heaven to the Kingdom of God. In connection with this detail, the destiny of the wicked, whose lives were not in accordance with the commandments of God and Christian moral teaching, is uncertain. Different approaches to this issue were developed through the history of Christianity: some fathers of the Church claimed that all sins will be forgiven, and every creature will be safe after the Doomsday; others, whose point of view became traditional because it is much more accords to the Holy Scripture, claimed that only those, whose lives were righteous and who loved God and other people as Jesus taught, will survive the Doomsday – other people (sinners, pagans, gentiles etc.) will burn in eternal fire and suffer in such a place where there is no light and only tortures and pain. In such a way, Christianity in its classical version describes the destiny of those whose lives contradict to God’s will. Besides, such an approach to this issue contradicts with God’s unlimited Love, God’s loving nature, which is always underlined in the Holy Scripture. Many Christian thinkers cannot agree with the statement that almighty and merciful God, good “Our Father, Who is in Heaven” could create such a terrible place for His people, His Children, who are too weak to defeat their sinful nature and cannot find their way to God. Telling the famous parable about the Good Shepherd, Jesus says, “I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (New International Edition, John 10:15-16). Some modern theologists think that God loves all people and does not want to bring some of them to endless torment. That is why many people cannot believe that eternal Hell does really exist. Each of these two approaches to Hell is defended by its supporters through multiple publications, disputes, etc. Based on this dispute, Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy in their work Across the Spectrum: Understanding Issues in Evangelical Theology describe the Christian view on Hell through the prism of two views on the destiny of the wicked. Classical theory insists on the necessary punishment and tortures for those who are not righteous people, and Annihilating theory has much more humanistic point of view, which, in accordance with the teaching about God’s omnipotence and mercy, interprets the eternal punishment for sinners as punishment which always waits for them, not as eternal life in tortures. Boyd and Eddy offer some arguments to defend both positions and, also, some counterarguments for each of them. The main arguments of the Classical theory followers concern such problems as the authority of Church tradition, transcendent state of God, necessary punishment for crimes (in order to provide justice in the world) and the cultural importance of fear of Hell, which is one of the main causes of social and moral development (Boyd and Eddy 284-285). Certainly, these arguments are very strong, because Church traditions are based on the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, and it is difficult to criticize those who established the main tenets of Christianity. The second argument also cannot be denied, because it calls to logic: if a sin offends infinite God, punishment for it must be infinite too. The last two arguments are made to preserve social order, which can be destroyed by an absence of such a powerful source of fear and tortures as Hell. As for the followers of Annihilating theory, their arguments concern two great contradictions that are connected with the belief in Hell. Boyd and Eddy claim that “Unending suffering is inconsistent with the love of God” and “unending torment is inconsistent with God's victory”. The first argument is clear: it is nonsense when almighty and merciful God eternally tortures unbelievers and sinners. If He really loves people, He would rather annihilate, kill, and destroy them, than bring them to Hell for the eternity because it is much more humanistic solution of the problem. The second argument is more complicated: after the Doomsday, God must be absolutely victorious, He has to possess the entire Universe, so there will be no place for sinful people who do not obey the Lord and do not kneel when His Kingdom comes. That is why, the followers of Annihilating theory claim that all people, whose way of life does not let them go to Heaven after death, must be destroyed as the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah and other sinful characters from the Bible who can be examples in such a question. This problem is very complicated since no statement concerning Hell or Heaven, life after death and annihilation and even the essence of God can be proved. These are the issues based on the religious faith, and one cannot insist that only Classical, or Annihilating or even some another theory is right. Besides, in my opinion, Annihilating theory is much more useful for the development of love, fairness and true faith among the Christians. Classical theory is based on human fear of unwanted pain and punishment. Through the righteous way of life many Christians try to avoid God’s wrath, which leads to mentioned tortures, etc. In secular law, such people are called “marginals.” They are always ready to cross the “margin” of the obedience when a policeman, manager or, in a case of religion, God does not see them. Such a situation was once in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve crossed this margin and thought that God is not there. Saint John divides all believers into those who obey the law and those who follow Christ with love and freedom in their souls, “for the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (New International Edition, John 1:17). God wants humans to love Him, not just obey Him, because of fear and thrill. That is why God is the King (“Your Kingdom come”), but, first of all He is “Our Father”. Boyd and Eddy doubt “the traditional teaching on Hell generally instills fear in the hearts of unbelievers”. In my opinion, unbeliever would not care of any concept of religion, which he does not support. Certainly, the teaching about eternal tortures is created to control not unbelievers, but Christians, whose belief is not strong or is unfair, whose moral principles need some help of fear in order to make such people real Christians. Besides, with the help of fear there will be no love, only fear. Jesus could come as the greatest king whose power would make all people obey him, but it is not what God really wants from people while Jesus was a poor prophet who taught people to love God and each other. God is not cruel; His love has no end, so the teaching about eternal Hell is not adequate. One knows nothing about life after death for sure, but I am certain that God cannot be revengeful and cruel, because it contradicts with the whole spirit of Christianity, which means much more than Church tradition means – the Classical view on Hell contradicts with the person of Jesus Christ, which embodies the highest principles of mercy, love and truth.