Over the last year we saw such an overload of Internet religious wars with the publishing of various books about the questioning and re-examining of the doctrine of hell. It has appeared that some Christian circles have outright demanded that their perspective not be questioned and have done all they can to forbid such discussion within their churches. The doctrine of hell has been debated for centuries and while 4 out of 6 early churches believed there was no literal hell, it has remained a topic with heated proportion. The thing that gets my attention is that debating this topic is nothing new for Christianity and while some evangelicals insist their perspective is the only right one, the fact remains that there are plenty of others who disagree.
photo credit Lacy
As much as some denominations of Christianity wish to silence the freedom of inquiry in their congregations, the heritage we have as Christians to continue to study and question each other thrives today. Some may want to halt such communication, however I propose that we embrace this tradition instead of trying to stop at the doorsteps of the mainstream view. Just because a view is in held by a majority doesn’t make it true. Americans live in a time when we won’t be burned at the stake or sent to jail for questioning the preachers. And God forbid any pastor in America today EVER vote for the power to do such a thing.
“An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.” Mohandas Gandhi
The topic of hell is not the only theological topic that has been debated for many years. Among other arguments are the Trinity, Christian works, security/loss of salvation, and the working of the Holy Spirit through ‘supernatural’ gifts. I support the tradition of free inquiry without the fear of reprisal from among our Christian brothers and sisters. The apostle Paul said this about divisions,
1 Corinthians 11: 18“For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,d 19for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.”~ESV
In Galatians 2 Paul goes on to discuss the disagreement yet peace that came about between him and other brethren (verses1-10). He went on to publicly rebuke Peter in verses 11-21 for his contradictions. Furthermore, we see in James what appears to be opposing teachings to that of Paul’s gospel of grace. Martin Luther debated against the Catholic Church and Michael Servetus argued theological points with John Calvin. Yet somewhere along the line some Baptists think they cornered the market on theology while Pentecostalism rose up and presented some interesting and valid perspectives on the working of the Spirit.
Thankfully the tradition of burning people at the stake was halted here in America and we continue to have more tools at our disposal for studying the Hebrew and Greek through the Internet. We no longer have to live in fear that our lives will be at risk for disagreeing with the denominational styles of Christianity. There are over 35,000 denominations of Christianity today and not one of them has the corner market on truth.
So to the older generations who hold fast to their traditional teachings, please do everyone a favor and stop trying to forbid people from thinking on their own, studying the scriptures, and coming to their own conclusions. Simply present your conclusions and people will present their own. In Christ, we are free to question, debate, and find our own paths that Theos has laid out before us.
The sites linked into this article may or may not represent the views of this blog author.
The following blogs are a variety of different perspectives on theology;