As a recap here is a list of my main criticisms toward cultivating belief in the concepts of God and hell, as presented by many conservative Evangelicals. My disclaimer here is that not all conservative Evangelicals agree with what I am saying in this post. It appears, however, that there are segments that do.
With that said, a failure to intersect claims about hell, God, souls, etc.., into our present reality is a failure to speak from a legitimate position of concern. This is regardless of how serious hell may seem to the Christian.
It puts these claims into a knowledge category that is admittedly conceptual even within the lives of most Christians. An inability to demonstrate the truth of these claims leaves them on par with all other religious claims out there! There is no reason to give any more credence to Christianity than any other set of faith-based claims.
What this means is that reliable forms of knowledge and evidence are not forthcoming for the Christian. They would do well to consider whether it is time to suspend judgement about whether there is actually a God on the other side of this equation?
Whereas the Bible appears to teach that people knowingly suppress their knowledge of God, specifically the Bible’s God, our world situation is such that a myriad of external factors appear to influence the minds of people to believe and value vastly different religious and philosophical ideas. One’s immediate family, culture, and region of the world plays a large role in this process.
This would seem to speak against some kind of internal awareness of the Bible’s God. People do not knowingly suppress information that they do not possess. They embrace the ideas and beliefs that they were raised with and exposed to in their immediate context.
This should bring into question whether it is justified for the Bible to hold a position that condemns all people who do not believe in Jesus as their Savior. Since many Christians themselves do not profess firsthand knowledge of God, this should also give credence to the fact that humans do not suppress the truth, or knowledge of God, in their unrighteousness.
On a final note what does either an eternal or temporal hell do to resolve the problem of human suffering? It seems to me that the traditional view of hell, a place of eternal conscious torment, would serve to magnify the problem of human suffering to its highest degree.
Not only would this world have been a place with an immense amount of unwarranted human suffering, but the prospect of unending hell would be a purposeful intention, on the part of God, to never put an end to the worst possible suffering. It is safe to say that anyone who believes in a literal eternal hell is giving credence to the idea that suffering must find no solution or resolve, ever.
A temporal hell doesn’t fare much better in the sense that salvation through Jesus alone is going to fill up hell with the vast majority of humans that have ever existed. It will have been a purposeful plan, on the part of God, to extinguish a vast majority of people that He has created. Simply to make a statement about a way of salvation that He chose to implement.
Neither predicament appears to be conducive to saving and restoring humanity meaningfully. Sure, maybe for a select few who believed in Jesus, but certainly not for the majority, or even for our race as a whole.
As one who has read through the Bible firsthand, I have to unfortunately agree with the interpretation of many of these passages. It becomes a very selective view of redemption served on a plate of extreme condemnation. A form of punishment that intends to never let up or even consider creating a path toward the restoration of sinners.