I thought I'd start the week off right after all the trouble from last week and dive right into a few more thoughts I've had concerning hell.
I recently listened to a couple of interviews with Brian McLaren, and a large part of the interviews discussed hell. Essentially McLaren and the emergent reject the idea of hell and our traditional teachings of it, by in large, because it just "isn't fair." The general argument against God sending people who reject Him to hell is this: To punish a finite being for a finite number of sins for an infinent amount of time doesn't seem very loving or just.
But my question to people who reject hell because it doesn't seem fair is, how do you justify Christ's sacrificial death? He was perfect, God incarnate (though this is another thing the emergent don't seem to always accept), sinless, and innocent. How is that fair? God had to send His Son to us and kill Him for us to even have a chance at salvation. Christ laid down His life to save us. How is that fair? If you want to play the "life isn't fair" game, justify that! God poured out all His wrath upon His only Son for a wretched bunch of sinners (ooh that's a naughty word among the emergent as well). He poured an infinent amount of wrath upon the only man to ever live sinlessly and perfectly. Can you imagine the pain, emotionally, Christ experienced upon that cross? He was completely sinless, even after having been tempted in every way we are, and His Father poured His wrath upon Him, His Father withdrew from Him, it's heart breaking to see Christ cry out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Yet, Christ knew why He was there. He never lost sight of what He was accomplishing on the cross. But what of the Father?
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed; he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper his hand. (Isaiah 53:10, emphasis mine)
It pleased the Father? What satisfaction could come from the death of His Son? The depth of the answer to this question escapes me. As much as I may understand, I know it goes beyond what I can even begin to comprehend. It doesn't seem fair to kill one for the sins of others yet we accept this. This is the core of Christianity. Christ died to pay the price for our sin. It doesn't make sense that Christ should die so that we may live, but we accept it. It is a teaching that is laid out clearly through out the scriptures. And we accept it.
So why do we reject other teachings that are laid out just as clearly? When the Bible says everlasting punishment, why do we seek out another meaning? Why do we think that surely the choice of words must be a mistake? Are we honestly so arrogant to believe we know what the Bible means better than it's writers? Better than God? Nobody on earth would say yes to that question, but when you reject something that was taught that is what you are saying. You're saying "I know better than Paul, Peter, John, and yes, even Jesus about the character of God."
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Do we truly believe - are we so arrogant to think we can fully know the mind of God? Especially when we are submerged in sin? But if Jesus, who is God, spoke of sin, death, hell, and eternal fire - why do we try to twist His words to fit into our way of thinking? This doesn't speak well of our regard for Scriptures and it certainly doesn't speak well of our overwhelming pride.