While John Shore purports to describe Christianity without hell, he actually describes Christianity without lots of things. Mainly, he’s proposing a Christianity without many of the moral standards that Jesus taught and lived. Why John still wants to call it Christianity is beyond me. What he’s proposing is nothing Jesus would recognize.
Because I believe that everyone is going to heaven, you might think that I’d be someone who finds some redeeming value in John’s piece. Nope. To use John’s word, I find what he has written here “toxic.”
I believe that the traditional teaching about hell – that it is a place of eternal conscious torment which awaits some of us after this life is over – is wrong. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that the Bible teaches about hell. I just believe that the traditional teaching misrepresents the Bible.
The Bible clearly does teach that sin exists, that it is wrong, and that its consequence is death. The Bible also teaches that the judgments of God are in the earth, and that we receive a final judgment of our lives when we die.
What’s toxic about John’s writing is that he is implicitly suggesting that God doesn’t much care what we do in this life as long as everyone’s enjoying it. That’s not Christianity, that’s hedonism. And it’s clear from the Bible that hedonism doesn’t bring God’s approval; rather, it invites His judgment.
As for hell, there are several problems with the traditional teaching about it. One of the most glaringing anti-biblical is that it suggests God is so limited that the only judgment He is capable of imposing is a pass/fail grade at the end of life. It’s like saying a college is only able to grant its students diplomas or else sentence them to the death penalty – that it is incapable of assigning grades to individual courses, tests, or any other kind of academic work leading up to completion of the curriculum. This doesn’t fit the God of the Old Testament or the God of the New Testament.
I don’t want to take the time here to explain what the Bible actually does teach about hell. I do that extensively at resources you can find at the link above. What I want to do here is to go on record as saying that the thinking taught in this piece from Time magazine has nothing to do with Christ or the Bible. It is just a regurgitation of pop culture’s moral self-justification dressed up in Christian language.
(2 min read; 319 words)