Monday, August 18, 2008


Real Live Preacher has posted a challenge on his blog to those who believe in a literal Hell: prove its existence, using only biblical (especially New Testament) passages. It's a tougher request than one might think, given how saturated most Christian traditions are in imagery of the afterlife, and how adamant most are about the necessity of some sort of outward confession of faith if one wants to avoid eternal torment.

In reality, the Bible offers only limited support for any theory one cares to put forward about what happens after the end of this life. Those who believe that an elect few will live in bliss with God while the vast majority burn forever may actually have a weaker case than those who believe that everyone will be saved in the end, but ultimately neither side seems to have a decisive biblical mandate.

My own belief that some alternative to heaven must exist for free will to properly function is based as much on reason (and the writings of CS Lewis) as it is on any specific biblical passage, but I have yet to see a counter argument that doesn't rely just as heavily on human reasoning and extrabiblical sources once the proof texts have all been trotted out. If anything, it seems that God isn't deeply concerned with our knowing specifics about what happens after death. He wants us to draw closer to him in this lifetime, but the "carrot and stick" approach seems to be primarily an invention of human religion.

Whatever that ultimately means for our theology, I look forward to reading the results of RLP's challenge.

A few more links of interest:

-Anita at Sisterfriends Together has posted an interesting piece on the Song of Solomon and its ramifications for Christian arguments about premarital sex. (This is a follow-up to a previous post).

-Peterson has another good piece up on the Shame and Blame game that many ex-gay programs play.

-Finally, Pomoprophet is back in the blogosphere, and he could use your thoughts and prayers.

No comments: