As long as I can remember, everyone believes in heaven, but fewer believe in hell. If they do believe, it’s only those “other” bad folks going there – Hitler, Stalin, the neighbor who leaves the trashcans out all week. And before he left Christianity, Rob Bell (called a rock star pastor by Time) wrote a book, “Love Wins,” arguing that nobody goes to hell, because well … love wins. (The phrase was quickly adopted for gay marriage, climate change and Kim Jong-un.)
But recently it seems to me that there is a “hell” of a revival going on – or, more precisely, a revival of hell. If Donald Trump’s election has done anything, it’s gotten people to think about hell a lot and specifically who MUST go there!
I guess love doesn’t win all the time.
- Pennsylvania Assistant Principal Zachary Ruff told a pro-life student, “”You and Trump can go to hell,” and “You can go to hell, where they are, too,” “they” apparently referring to aborted children. I nominate Ruff to be the new head of Planned Parenthood! His values are perfectly aligned with Cecile Richards.
- At the University of Utah, students protested conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s appearance on campus with signs that said, “Hate is not welcome here,” while they chanted (uneducated in hypocrisy), “It is right to rebel, Ben Shapiro go to hell.”
- Rosie O’Donnell, in response to House Speaker Paul Ryan posting praise of Christmas and Jesus, said, “paul ryan – don’t talk about Jesus after what u just did to our nation – u will go straight to hell.”
- “Hamilton” playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, tweeted, “You’re going straight to hell, @realDonaldTrump. No long lines for you.”
- Shia LaBeouf, whom I LOVE in “Even Stevens” and “Transformers,” told a cop that he’s “going to hell” because he’s black.
- Donna Brazile told Hillary-backing critics of her book to all go to hell.“
- Madeleine Albright said to a laughing audience that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.” Meaning any woman who doesn’t vote for Clinton. That Albright – she’s always cracking me up!
- And lastly, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said that the California teacher who bashed the military while teaching “ought to go to hell.”
Whoah! It’s like Nancy Pelosi’s Armageddon! Hell is everywhere! We’ve gone from “love wins” to “who am I gonna send to hell today?” so quickly!
You might expect that from insane Christian-in-name-only types (Westboro Baptist Church), but the vast majority of the hell talk seems to be coming from the Christianity-is-the-Taliban left.
Why all the hell talk?
Simple. Because every culture and every people have a sense that justice is real and wrongs must be righted. People may have vastly different views on what is right and is wrong, e.g., pro-lifers: abortion bad. Most pro-abortion activists? Save the whales! Abort the baby! But all have an innate sense that justice must prevail. Why?
Because we are created in God’s image. He is a God of justice. He will right the wrongs. So even if our sense of wrong is corrupted by sin, like God, we still have that innate craving that wrongs should be righted.
All of that said, here two things you’ve gotta know about hell:
1. Hell is real. Jesus talked more about hell than He did about heaven. If you believe Jesus is divine, no getting around hell. Jesus is right; Rob Bell is wrong.
Justice demands all wrong must be punished. But it doesn’t happen on this earth! Only 61 percent of murders are solved. That means there are murderers who never face justice in this life. So how can justice prevail?
God is a just God. And He will punish all wrongdoing. Nobody “get’s away with it.” And according to Jesus, hell is the place just punishment takes place.
2. God doesn’t want anyone to go there. Every religion but Christianity says the way to erase our bad is to do lots of good, and the good will outweigh the bad. But even if you could do a truly excellent thing for every sin you’ve ever committed, it wouldn’t erase the sin. So, what to do?
Jesus went to a cross and took all the sin – took our “just” punishment, so we wouldn’t have to.
Damnation used to mean punishment in hell. So to say, “Damn you!” meant, “Go to hell!”
I had a clever seminary professor, and about 30 or 40 years ago, when speaking to teens, he’d say, “Some of you love to say, ‘Damn you!’ (when a preacher says that it wakes everyone up). Quit that! You can’t damn anyone. So, some of you say, ‘God damn you.’ You need to quit that too. Because God doesn’t want to damn them. He wants to save them.”
I’d add, “No matter what Rosie says!”
So for the Rosies and the Shias and the Lin-Manuels – I hope you do believe in hell. But be assured, you can’t send anyone there, and God doesn’t want to send anyone there, even you. That’s why He paid such a ridiculously high price to keep folks out. Max Lucado says it best: “Jesus places ‘do not enter signs’ all over the gateway to hell, and he announces to anyone who wants to go, ‘if you go you’ve gotta go over my dead body.'”