A rather distasteful aspect of mainstream Christianity is the idea that people are going to Hell based on their beliefs. I say “distasteful” because people outside of my faith tradition don’t like it. I don’t like it either. But I believe Christ to be who he says he is, which means he’s trustworthy. Jesus talked more about Hell than anyone else in the Bible. I feel like Peter after some of Jesus’ other difficult teachings, “where else am I to go?” If Jesus’ teachings are true, then that means I have to accept them even if they are distasteful.
Some comments were made under another post about the theology of Hell. I thought I’d clear some misconceptions up and bring the topic into its own post.
I as an “open-minded” Mormon wouldn’t consider “evangelical” Christianity simply because it describes God in a way that it is near diabolical, at least to my understanding. You don’t believe in Christ, you are going to hell. How can it make sense that he puts you in a world that is filled with confusion, extremely easy not to make the “right” choice of believing in the Trinity, and then punish you for eternity for screwing up during the 50-70 years you hung around earth. It doesn’t make sense that any sort of loving God would condemn you to hell for eternity for much of anything you BELIEVE as a stupid mortal human on this earth.
I think this mischaracterizes the Evangelical position. It may be nuanced but profound to us at least. We don’t believe that anyone is going to Hell because of belief. We believe people can’t be with God because of sin, their actions.
Only actions have the power to remove us from God. Only belief (in Christ) has the power to reconcile us to God. Mormons believe the same thing. They just believe that people have the opportunity to believe in Christ either here on earth or later on in spirit prison. If someone in spirit prison refuses to believe in Christ he is no closer to God than the person who refuses to believe here on earth.
To which Seth responded:
Tim, but what about the logistics of it? That still isn’t a clear answer for the African girl born in a mud hut during the 5th century who never had a shot at accepting Christ in mortality or not. This life is your only shot at accepting Christ? Really?
Paul makes it clear in Romans 2 that all people have some knowledge of God and will be judged based on their own knowledge but there is no other name they can be saved by but Jesus Christ.
“If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely. Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.
When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences.” (Romans 2, from The Message)
Some basic things to keep in mind:
1) ALL have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) That means everyone is going to hell.
2) God loves his creation and doesn’t wish anyone to perish. (2 Peter 3:9)
3) God sent his Son so that no one would have to perish. (John 3:16)
4) People perish for refusing to believe the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10)
4) Christ is the only judge. (2 Timothy 4:1)