Hell: A Case for the Unknown

Ross Douthat has an interesting editorial at the New York Times, that “newspaper” read in the eastern US that proposes to be committed to quality news, information and entertainment in the U.S. and around the world, but in truth is a bias, uninformed, relativistic collection of intelligentsia read widely by global liberal coreligionists who believe in tolerance only if you tolerate them.  Kudos for Mr. Douthat, for there may be some professional advantage to writing for the NY Times.  But I digress . . .

Mr. Douthat’s article, titled “A Case for Hell” is a direct and interesting read about the modern world misunderstanding of hell by way of discounting ages of history and knowledge to support it’s own self prophecies.  Here’s a few choice selections:

“Doing away with hell, then, is a natural way for pastors and theologians to make their God seem more humane.  The problem is that this move also threatens to make human life less fully human.  Atheists have license to scoff at damnation, but to believe in God and not in hell is ultimately to disbelieve in the reality of human choices. If there’s no possibility of saying no to paradise then none of our no’s have any real meaning either.  They’re like home runs or strikeouts in a children’s game where nobody’s keeping score. . . 

“As Anthony Esolen writes, in the introduction to his translation of Dante’s “Inferno,” the idea of hell is crucial to Western humanism.  It’s a way of asserting that “things have meaning” — that earthly life is more than just a series of unimportant events, and that “the use of one man’s free will, at one moment, can mean life or death … salvation or damnation.”

What is interesting is the comments section, as of this writing there were 210 of them; with the ‘reader recommended’ comments written as if the writers intended to prove Mr. Douhat’s point! Many writers turned the concept of hell into political statements, that only “conservatives . . . revere the institution (of hell)” and that “hell is of our own making” for making the mistake of electing Ronald Reagan in 1984, lists of names of Republican politicians who were headed to hell, (the irony of non-believers in hell sending politicians to hell!), only conservatives were religious, thus proving that faith in heaven and hell are false, etc. ad nauseam.

There were those who’s belief in the concept of hell as “sophistry”, or “myths”, or “monstrous”, believers were “weak and foolish” and even a secular humanist who added his blog address in an effort to draw readers of his own ‘religion’ to his website.  Other commentators tried to use this essay as proof of their non-Christian belief system.  Mr. Douthat was accused of being “immature”, “unintelligent”, and even “blasphemous.”

Remarkably, very few seemed to consider the possibility that they didn’t know what life after death held, let alone the belief in hell.  The elitist scientific belief that moderns know all there is to know today belies the fact that generations  for several centuries before us believed the very same way.  When Luther broke from the Church to start his own faith system, he had the Holy Bible rewritten to support that faith in the secure belief that all before him were complete idiots.

Sadly, on Easter Sunday, many readers of Mr. Douthat’s essay seemed unable to comprehend that “things have meaning – that earthly life is more than just a series of unimportant events.”  They couldn’t, even for a moment, open themselves enough to  consider the possibility that “the use of one man’s free will, at one moment, can mean life or death … salvation or damnation.”

On Easter, these commentators, and we suspect a majority of NY Times readers, simply couldn’t conceive that a Greater Power, who loves them beyond description, Who watches over them, helping them through their lives and situations in to find Him, could be warning them of ways to avoid Hell.  A hell in which there is no God is a terrifying and more apt descriptoin of hell.

A Tip of the Hat to Ross Douthat for his efforts to evangelize the readers of the NY Times.

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