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Progressive Christians and Hell

Whenever I get into a discussion about religion with a progressive Christian the first thing I like to bring up is Hell. It is easy for progressive Christians to speak out against Dick Cheney’s torture program here on Earth, but for some strange reason they are much more hesitant to speak out against God’s eternal torture program in Hell.

Recently, a progressive Christian attempted to give progressive Christianity credit for all that is good and justice in our society. I had to disagree. So the very first thing I asked was about whether progressive Christians believe in Hell. I got two responses and I think they are both interesting.

The first response was that most progressive Christians reject the concept of Hell entirely. I wish that were true, but it has the same ring to it as when Dinesh D’Souza claims that only about 5% of Christians reject the science of evolution. He is just pulling a made up number out of his ass. I don’t think most progressive Christians reject the concept of Hell, just that they prefer not to think about the concept much. To the credit of progressive Christians, they do focus more on this life than they do on the next life. But I question how many truly reject the concept of Hell entirely.

That brings me to the second response which was alone the lines of, “It doesn’t really matter where I think you go when you die, it is really up to God and I’m not judging.” Note that this isn’t an exact quote but it is a pretty accurate summery. This person apparently is part of that tiny small minority of progressive Christians who don’t reject the concept of Hell outright. This I think is actually the more typical progressive Christian view and it is a view I have a serious issue with.

Can you imagine if we showed the same indifference to the Bush/Cheney torture program? For me, the issue is simple. If you believe in Hell, then you most take a stand against God. If you believe that God exists and that Hell exists, then the moral thing to do is to criticize God for torturing anyone for all eternity. You can’t hide behind God’s judgment. Torture is wrong and eternal torture is ridiculously wrong. If God does it or even allows it to happen when he has the power to stop it, then God is immoral, period. Further, if you believe in God and Hell and you don’t take a position against God, then you are also immoral. Think about it!

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  • Alexander Unwyn Cherry

    The other stance I hear is “Well, Hell is just another name for the absence of God, which is just your fate if you reject him.” The implication is that the speaker believes that not having God in one’s life is just as horrible as being thrown into a lake of fire (and that the descriptions of Hell are just metaphor for God’s absence).

  • http://twitter.com/SciencePundit SciencePundit

    The problem of hell can be stated a la Epicurus.
    1. If I (atheist) deny Jesus yet don’t go to hell, then Jesus is a liar.
    2. If Jesus is honest and you (progressive Xian) don’t think that I deserve hell, then Jesus is unjust.
    3. If Jesus is both honest and just, then you believe that I deserve to spend eternity in hell.

  • Anna

    I am a Christian and I believe in God and that Hell exists; however, it is not God that puts you in Hell or sends you to eternal torture: the choice not to believe in Him does. God give each person the choice to believe in Him and to have everlasting life with Him in Heaven; yet, He also gives each person the choice to deny Him. The latter option of denying Him causes Him to deny you. It is a choice that you have; I will be praying for you. Thank you for talking about God, honestly. I pray that your future efforts in talking about Him will be with love as He loves you instead of against Him. Either way, He is at the center of your universe.

    • dangeroustalk

      Anna, I don’t want get sidetracked by showing just how ridiculous your comment was. Instead, I want to first ask you if you are a progressive Christian. That is the demographic I am targeting with this particular blog post. If you aren’t, that’s fine. We can still have the conversation. But I want to know if your comments are representative of the target demographic of this post. Are you a progressive Christian?

  • suzie

    The word torture is never used. The biblical word is torment. These words are worlds apart. Hell is giving dignity to man. God is not forcing anybody to be brought into the arms of a loving grace filled God. He is not forcing anybody to dive into HIs riches of mercy. Look around at the world and what we have made it. The bible does not teach us to have genocide, starve others, be racist, and a host of other things. He is giving us an oppurtunity to be a part of a kingdom where this does not exist. Hell is for everybody who rejects Him and this notion. Hell is for people who do not want their sin removed and want to live in a sinful society.

    • dangeroustalk

      Once again, I want to know if you consider yourself a progressive Christian before I go into the problems with your argument. So are you a progressive Christians?

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  • Stephen “Steve” Sponsler

    I’m not a Progressive Christian, Thank God, because there is no such thing! And, it nearly killed me. I grew up unknowingly in a ‘progressive church’ and found there was no True Faith in it other than what people thought. It is not TRUE FAITH..That which is given of God in the Person of His Christ. (Progressive Christianity is just another scam, ….a man made concept, which really falls under the the title: “Why I don’t believe God”. Christ the Same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and it was Christ that said: ‘And do not be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. ‘ Jesus talked more about hell than anyone. Maybe the real question is to such a person: ‘do you Believe God? If in fact, you even Know Him? For He can’t be Known but by Faith that is in Christ and if Christ be in you” ‘Apart from Me you can do nothing” For reference, I find the whole reference to denial of hell nothing but a smoke screen to justify one’s unbelief in the Truth. A person who Loves the LORD is not Loving Him ‘to Get to heaven nor ‘avoid going to hell’ as some might think. But because simply They’ve had the Love of God shed abroad on their hearts, and abide in Christ as He in you”. Love not the world or the things of the world.