My Personal Christian Blog

Thanks for sliding into my blog site. This blog bog is a spin-off from my website at Call me a Night Owl, as my full-time mission and hobby are jabbering from midnight until 8 a.m.ish with chatter bugs across the world. Hoot, hoot! Being a retired newspaper guy and a Curious George, I've written and assembled a whack of stuff that I hope you'll find interesting and thought-provoking. Check out the Stories bar on the right side, below, for all my articles - from my web site and this blog.

April 30, 2017

Sadly, the Subject of Hell Gets Little Pulpit Time

By Paul Tatham

Do you believe in Heaven?

Do you believe in Hell?

Virtually all born-again Christians would answer the first question in the affirmative and without hesitation.

A sizeable number would also answer the second question in the affirmative, although that number would likely be lower. And a trained pollster may detect a degree of tentativeness in their answer—a kind of “give me a second to think about it” answer.

That’s because Heaven is a soothing prospect, while Hell makes us fidget. Telling someone that he can relish an eternity of joyous bliss in Paradise, if he merely opens his heart to the Savior, is an easy gig compared to telling someone that he will wind up in Hell if he doesn’t.

Enlightening someone that he is Hell-bound, rather than Heaven-bound, is not the kind of news we like to broach when trying to win friends and influence people. So many Christians simply avoid talking about it altogether, as if Hell were a fanciful abode drawn from literature of the Middle Ages rather than God’s Word.

And it’s not just parishioners. Even pastors get lock-jaw and avoid the H-word unless absolutely necessary. They don’t want to alienate those seated before them, especially visitors who may be darkening the door of a church for the first time in ten years. That’s understandable. We don’t want to “turn people off” unnecessarily.

But avoiding the topic of Hell completely is something altogether different. And yet that’s just what many pastors do. They never do get around to preaching on Hell. No Hell-fire sermons, no altar calls, no singing Just As I Am. It’s much less hassle to sidestep a topic that is so negative.

To deliver a sermon akin to Sinner’s in the Hands of an Angry God, that the colonial revivalist preacher Jonathan Edwards unabashedly preached in 1741, would almost be unthinkable today. Pastors today don’t want to be labelled fear-mongers who harshly dangle their congregants over the pit of Hell every so often.

I could be wrong, but it strikes me that many evangelicals today have a watered-down view of Hell and seemingly ignore passages such as Mark 9 that describe Hell as a place of never-ending torment. It probably won’t be all that bad, they reason, and it probably won’t last for eternity. They view Hell as a kind of Protestant Purgatory, a kind of Hell-Lite.

But Hell is a very real place, and there won’t be anything “lite” about it. So should our fear of offending someone override the command of Jesus to take the gospel, including the part about Hell, far and wide?
Seriously, isn’t it more important to run the risk of offending someone, but rescue him from the flames of eternal torment, than to never try at all?