Saturday, March 17, 2007

Using the fear of Hell

There are many tools of persuasion. Think about it: if you want to try and convince someone to follow through on a certain action, you can either appeal to their moral sensibilities (“it is the right thing to do”) or you can provide some form of incentive (“I will give you X if you do Y”). Or, if you are trying to convince someone of your position, you can take the time to collect evidence and compile logical arguments (“if X and Y are true, then we can be fairly certain that Z is true”).

Unfortunately, these methods take time and effort, and there is always the chance that even after all your hard work the person will walk away unconvinced. There is, however, another tool that is more effective and incredibly easy to implement. On its own it requires little effort and thus it is often used by the lazy.

It is the tool of fear.

Fundamentalist Christianity is one institution that is extremely effective in using fear to persuade people to accept various beliefs. It is the fear of Hell that it uses so well. Thinking back to when I was a Christian, I clearly remember two instances when I came across a negative concept of Hell.

The first was when I was in high school. One weekend, our entire church youth group went camping on a farm near Heidelberg in Gauteng. One night, while we all sat around a raging bonfire, our youth leader gave a talk on Hell. He asked us to imagine jumping into the bonfire, and to imagine the torment of our skin peeling off our bodies. We all shivered at the thought. He then added that Hell would be a thousand times worse: we would be encased in small enclosures – alone, cut off from everyone else – and we would burn in agony, for eternity. I remember everyone being numbed at this thought.

The second time was a few years later, at an evangelical rally at a large charismatic church in Johannesburg. A group of us went to the church to see the much talked about play called Heaven’s Gates, Hell’s Flames. The entire play was based on the fear of hell: characters in the story would either be sent to eternal damnation or eternal glory; when a character was sent to hell, the lights would dim, a ruddy glow would envelope the stage, and the sound of screaming would emanate from the speakers. After the play a preacher stood up and for half-an-hour pleaded with us to accept Jesus in order to escape damnation. Many people stood up at the alter call, including one of my friends. I remained seated, feeling angry at the blatent emotional manipulation that was going on.

Why so much gory detail on the terror of hell? Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, provides a possible answer:

. . . the extreme horribleness of hell, as portrayed by priests and nuns, is inflated to compensate for its implausibility. If hell were plausible, it would only have to be moderately unpleasant in order to deter. Given that it is so unlikely to be true, it has to be advertised as very very scary indeed, to balance its implausibility and retain some deterrence value.” Pg 321

Fear ensures that people remain obedient: it discourages dissent and questioning, it eliminates open dialogue and honest persuasion. A person often resorts to the use of fear when they realise that their position can no longer be defended by logical argument. It is the coward’s method of persuasion; it is a sign of incredible weakness.

It was that night of the play when I decided that I would never again consider any argument that is based primarily on fear. You know, I think I lost my fear of Hell that very night; no longer do words of eternal suffering and damnation hold any power over me.

32 comments:

Mark said...

Hey Kevin

I remember seeing that play aswell when I was a christian.

Fear is something everyone uses to stir up emotions, Just look at the media today.

I remember ,when I was a christian, the one thing I would always ponder in regards to my relationship with God, is what was my motive for believing and following him.

Was it:
a)Love-I knew Jesus was my saviour
b)Reward - Heaven
c)Fear - Hell.

It is like "pascals wager". You have nothing to lose by believing.

If God were to exist, according to the bible, would he even let you into heaven based on the "fear" or "reward" motive.

The last point that evey christian "evangelist" comes to is fear. Heaven does not sound like the best place to sit in for eternity, so lets change the angle, and force people to heaven by using hell as a slave driver.

Just pondering

CyberKitten said...

Hell is just part of the standard control system that any authorty would use to dominate its people.

You can go a long way and get away with a lot by using a carrot (Heaven) and stick (Hell). Of course once you recognise them for what they are they do tend to lose quite a bit of their power over you [grin].

Kevin Parry said...

Just to clarify: my post wasn’t a criticism of Christianity in general or even a criticism of the doctrine of hell. The post was a criticism of the few Christian fundamentalists that use Hell fear and emotional manipulation to gather converts.

Mark wrote:
If God were to exist, according to the bible, would he even let you into heaven based on the "fear" or "reward" motive.

This is a good point. Is there not a verse in the Bible that says that true love drives out fear? I don’t think you can truly love anyone if your action of ‘love’ is based on, or initiated by, fear. If I made the decision to love God, I would prefer that that choice to be motivated by love and desire, not by emotional manipulation. If I love God through fear, is that love truly sincere?

Cyberkitten wrote
Of course once you recognise them for what they are they do tend to lose quite a bit of their power over you

I could be wrong, but I think this is the biggest risk the fundamentalists are taking. If you convert to Christianity, but you convert because you yourself made the conscious decision to do so, without external manipulation or fear, then your decision will be personal, meaningful and long lasting. The use of fear as a manipulative tool provides quick and easy results, but these results are fickle in nature, difficult to sustain. Once people loose the fear that you have instilled in them, you will loose those people for good. I wonder how many people have become ex-Christians as a result of the manipulative techniques used by fundamentalists.

All the best
Kevin

Stray said...

Hi Kevin,

We're discussing this topic (from a Christian view) at www.emergentafrica.com, maybe you want to check it out and join in on the conversation?

Basically, my first post there says that many people are arrogant to assume they know what the afterlife or hell is really like. Your story of your pastor saying that people sit in 'compartments' and feel this or that could be wholly wrong. Have you researched Early Christianity's view on this topic? You might be surprised.

Anyway, thanks for the honest post.

Stray

Foxy Goddess said...

At the risk of being ironic: AMEN!

Even more interesting, is that Judaism has no devil and no eternal hell. Since Jesus was a Jew, exploring this further would be worth the while of many who believe in such doctrines. (Before anyone tells me that "satan" is in the Jewish scripture, please note that the "devil" and the "satan" are not the same thing.)

Whenever anyone puts Pascal's Wager forward to me as a reason for returning to Christianity, I simply ask: "Is your god REALLY that stupid, that he can't tell someone who truly believes, from someone who believes 'just in case'? I can't respect such an entity."

I am an ex-fundamentalist Christian, and I also took people to the play "Heaven's Gates, Hell's Flames." But at that time, instead of seeing it as the blatant emotional blackmail that it was, I could only imagine that the message was true, and I sincerely grieved for people that might not convert and therefore, go to hell.

I had a near-death experience some years ago now, and have left Christianity as a result. Of course, what confuses Christians who enquire about it, is that I met Jesus during this experience. What the real cause of it - be it an actual spiritual event, or something with a physical cause - I don't care. It got me out of fundamentalist religion, and that's what matters most. Coming so close to death has made me appreciate life.

Love your blog - keep it up! :)

Kevin Cadman said...

Apparently all the cool people are in hell anyway ;)

Skywolf said...

Coming a little late to this - but I couldn't agree more with you, Kevin. What I find most abhorrent about fundamentalist doctrine is its blatant use of emotional blackmail to control people's beliefs. And what's even worse is the way in which children are manipulated through the same means. I grew up with the threat of hell instilled in me from the earliest age I can remember. I remember saying the 'sinner's prayer' over and over, just in case I hadn't quite got it right the first time, or if God hadn't believed me, or whatever. Just to be absolutely sure that I wouldn't go to hell if I suddenly died.

Children should never be put through this level of manipulation. No one should, actually. But to force your own child (or someone else's) into believing something purely by terrifying them into it is appalling, IMO.

Martin Kemp said...

Kevin,
Thoughtful blog you have here...methinks I'll come back some time and read some more.

Interesting that in your post (and in the comments) fear is only seen as something which is negative and used for abusive purposes. Can't we also see fear in a more positive light? ie as something which helps you avoid danger? I have the "fight or flight" concept in mind ... fear is an evolutionary development which helps us not end up the dinner of a bigger, more powerful beast.

Couldn't we see the Biblical use of fear in a similar light? That its something which can actually help us avoid danger? Fearless people are often the ones who put themselves in the most amount of danger...

marie said...

Hi Martin,

I think that if Hell were plausible (using Dawkins's term), then maybe fear could be a positive thing--everyone would know about Hell, it would be real, and we could avoid it.

I think the problem is that the concept of Hell is not plausible and is manipulated by so many people in so many different ways. So the fear is not in something real, but in something manufactured (even if Hell is real, not everyone can be right about it.) This is why it is dangerous.


i dont know

Martin Kemp said...

Marie,
You've hit the nail on the head. The issue is not so much the rightness or wrongness of speaking about hell, but about whether it's real or not. If it is real, then it would be irresponsible not to speak of it, but if it were made up then it is little more than a manipulative ploy. I haven't read Dawkins' book, but I would be interested to know why he thinks it’s not plausible.

Looking over the comments in this thread, I'm struck again at how quickly people dismiss talk of hell as simply a manipulative tool. I have also heard it said that it was an invention of the church...this view is hard to swallow given the amount of space Jesus himself gives over to the topic in the Gospels. I think if we are going to say that the concept of hell is manipulative, then for consistency’s sake I think we need to start calling Jesus a manipulator.

Kevin Parry said...

Martin Kemp wrote:
Couldn't we see the Biblical use of fear in a similar light? That its something which can actually help us avoid danger?

This makes sense. If someone ran through a building shouting that there was fire, it would make sense that I leave the building right away, even if I didn’t smell smoke or see any indication of the fire.

But the problem with hell is this: which fire do you run away from? Do you run away from Islam’s hell (by accepting Allah as the one true God), or do you run away from the Christian hell (by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Saviour)?

Moreover, as John Loftus argues in this this post, the amount of risk that hell poses is mitigated by the meagre evidence of its existence. It’s like someone running through the building screaming that killer tomatoes with sharp teeth are on the loose in the building, killing everyone. Would I leave the building then?

All the best
Kevin

Martin Kemp said...

Hmmmm...
I gues the Hell you run away from is the one spoken of by the one who has been raised from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus gives him the authority to speak of such things. How does this give Jesus the authority? I guess if you are going to speak about things beyond the scope of science you have to go beyond that scope yourself, and make it back again. Then you have some standing to speak of such matters.

Why do I believe in the resurrection of Jesus? For a number of reasons, including historical ones.

John Loftus claims that there is "meagre" evidence for the historical claims of Christianity, and I assume this includes the resurrection of Jesus. This is simply not true. Note also that Loftus supplies meagre evidence that there is meagre evidence; he doesn't dismiss the claims made by NT historians such as NT Wright in The Resurrection of the Son of God, nor does he convincingly dismiss the Biblical accounts. He just says they are wrong. Hardly an argument.

Loftus also brings out a "quantity of evidence” argument; that is both Muslims and Christians offer evidence, so no-one wins on account of millions of claims being mounted on both sides. But the Christian claim has always been made not on the quantity of evidence (of which in any case there is a sufficient supply), but on the quality of the evidence. And the resurrection of Jesus provides that quality.

So I guess it's all back to what you think of the resurrection of Jesus.

Kevin Parry said...

Hi Martin

You raise very valid points. Your comment has inspired me to write a new post on why I don't believe in the Resurrection. So watch this space . . .

All the best
Kevin

GhostRose said...

I'm lucky. My parents never tried to force me into believing in anything. When I was 14 and wanted a belief to cling to, I was free to make my own mind up without fear.

For the record, I accept Jesus, but that doesn't mean I have to believe in him. :-)

Dan said...

Wow Kevin, how sad that you had to withstand such abuse. The scriptures however, teach no such thing. The Christian hell is a hoax. Go to bible-truths.com.

Nikeyo said...

I just happened to google "fear of Hell" to see what's our there and came across your blog.

I think that this is the hardest barrier to overcome on one's way out of Christianity. I'm surprised that you claimed it disappeared that one night! I'm sure you recall the examples in Dawkin's book of people tormented and how there's psychological help out there to overcome the fear. But I suppose it depends on the person and the amount of indoctrinational damage done. My brother for example, has been terrified of Hell and the end-time Judgement idea since he was young. Yet neither my parents, no my church ever ground in this idea of Hell to that extent. The poor kid can't sleep at night and has nightmares wondering if he's "really saved."

I would've liked to read a longer post on the matter. I think it's a much deeper issue than it seems. And I think it's terrible. I have my own blog, collection of thoughts, on the motion out of Christianity. So I think I'm gonna follow your blog, I've been looking for someone going through a similar process.

breanne said...

I can't tell you how many times I have pondered hell. Growing up in a family that was kinda sorta Christian but not really (aka didn't have a connection to God but went to Church on holidays) totally seemed like a safe bet. After all, it's easy for people to blindly accept a faith when the repercussions for not believing are so severe. Go to church on Sunday, clean your slate, live your life without truly accepting God.

But this wasn't enough for me, and my emotions and desire for proof motivated me to dig deeper. So at seventeen years old, I went to a youth pastor at a Christian church near my home, and we would talk for hours. Every single question I had he would answer, straight from the Bible. It was magical, the way he had all these answers to everything, just through this scripture. So I converted.

I guess you could say from that point I have been deconverting, but it really doesn't feel like that. It never really felt like I converted anyways. I never got that voice inside my head telling me I did the right thing, or the presence of God by my side. I just started talking to family and friends, and things started to make more sense. The reason he had all these answers is because he completely submitted himself to this God. He had blind faith for the Bible, and even things that didn't make sense he accepted as truth. I realized I didn't want to be like that. Human beings are meant to ask questions.

I know that a good and loving person can NOT go through life happy knowing that family and friends around them are going to burn in eternal flames because they are not Christian. It is impossible to be truly good with knowing that, which is why many Christians I know don't think about it, just turn their backs on it.

I'm still on my spiritual journey, and I wouldn't say that my fear of hell has completely diminished yet. I am currently going to a religious science church and enjoy it alot, but that's not the end. I believe this world was meant to be perfect when each person at each time was born into it, and there is a reason that all different people have different belief systems, and people are meant to choose the one that calls to them and speaks to their heart. At the end of the day...despite different paths...aren't we all trying to love the same creator?

Louis Charles said...

Nice blog! I found it by Google-ing.

Yes, fear is the root of Christianity's message, and Hell is used to gain converts and hold people in line. This is why it was created, though it was not an early doctrine. Hell can be dispelled historically, biblically, and logically.

Louis Charles
Jesus Religion
http://www.JesusReligion.com

Creative Water Features said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ilse said...

'I know that a good and loving person can NOT go through life happy knowing that family and friends around them are going to burn in eternal flames because they are not Christian. It is impossible to be truly good with knowing that, which is why many Christians I know don't think about it, just turn their backs on it.'

Exactly!!! I am a deconverted muslim, and I remember in my heart I would be screaming for someone that openly admitted he understood me with this feeling! My family, school, friends anybody who was not muslim would be burning in hell. And most people just said ok get over it, you can't do anything about it, give the message and be silent, Allah leads who He wills... They just lead their lives, and don't worry about it somehow but it made me terrified. While a way to convert me to Islam was to say the only real peace you will find in your heart is to remember God, well how can you find real peace if you think about other people burning forever? I remember that my hobby was sending postcards to people all over the world, I used to want to spread a positive vibe and message to all people and now knowing that a lot of them would go to hell anyway made me paranoid and I stopped being a positve and loving person altogether, I didn't even know how to deal with my own parents anymore! How on earth can this feeling make a person better and improve the world? It only makes the world so many times worse, would this really please Allah, I wondered. I remember thinking ok just let me die then, I don't need paradise with all of its beauty, please spare my parents from hell as a swap ;-).

Michael Gormley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Gormley said...

HELL!

Does It Exist?

You Had Better Believe It Does...

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen was asked a question by a heckler, about someone who had passed on.

The Bishop replied, "I do not know the answer, but when I get to Heaven I will ask him."

The man replied, "But what if he isn't in Heaven?"

The Bishop answered him, "Well then you ask him."

How many people do you suppose believe in hell these days?

Many non-Catholic sects teach that there is no hell, since GOD is too merciful to send anyone to such a terrible place of torment.

These same denominations teach that the Bible is the "Sole Rule of Authority", that it was handed down by GOD, and is therefore to be believed.

Well, if the Bible is to be believed, it has to be believed
In its entirety and not simply what we want to believe.

There are at least 54 verses in Holy Scriptures that reference hell by name.

Explain to me why Holy Scripture would even mention a non-existent place so many times?

Hell, Gehenna, Tartarus, exists.

It is the abode of condemned souls, the devil, and demons.

It is the place of eternal punishment.

GOD does NOT send anyone to hell.

Each of us decides with our own free will whether we will spend eternity in Heaven or in hell.

Here is just a sample of the verses which reference hell:

Psalms 9:17, 21:10, 55:15, Proverbs 7:27, Sirach 9:17, 21:9-10, Isaiah *5:14, 30:33,*34:10, 66:24, Ezekiel 31:16-17, Ezekiel *32:27, Matthew 3:12, 10:28, 13:49-50, 18:8-9, 23:33, 25:41-46, Mark 9:42-48, *Luke12:5, Philippians2:10, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, 2 Peter 2:4, 9, Revelation 14:11,*20:9-15, 21:8.

Here are some verses to remind you that hell surely does exist:
Hell and death were cast into the pool of fire: Revelation 20:14

Hell and destruction are never filled: Proverbs 27:20

Hell has enlarged itself: Isaiah 5:14

Wow! Those last two verses hit hard and should be a wake up call.

Apparently there is lots of room left for all the people sending themselves there.

Do you still believe there is no hell?

Jesus Christ made several statements regarding the existence of hell.

Do you believe what He said in Scripture?

Matthew 25:41, "Then He will say to those on His left hand,
'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire
which was prepared for the devil and his angels
'."


Matthew 25:46, "And these will go into everlasting punishment, but the just into everlasting life."

Matthew 13: 41-42, "The Son of Man will send forth His angels,
and they will gather out of His Kingdom all scandals and those
who work iniquity, and cast them into the furnace of fire,
where there will be the weeping, and the gnashing of teeth."


If you deny the Word of Christ, you deny Him.

The Catholic Church teaches that hell really does exist.

Please read the Catechism of the Catholic Church,
CCC 1033-1037.

The best answer I have heard to give a person who has said
he or she does not believe in hell is, "Well you will when you get there, as you look down and say - Where am I?"

By then it is too late to do something about it isn't it?

Why not start now and turn to GOD and avoid this place.

That is, just in case it does exist...

Anonymous said...

God is more than fair he's merciful. But the devil makes sin fair seeming. So unless your like the most merciful person on earth wanting to excuse criminals from going to jail for rape and murder. How can you dismiss hell? Hypercritical no? Real cowards run from truth. The punishment for sin is a poor excuse to turn from faith, sorry try again. Why cant people tell the truth and say "i just wanted to do what i want."? Instead so many try to rationalize nonsense. Lying and making excuses is the nature of a person wanting to escape consequence. But like the devil himself, no matter how many you lead astray. Your still going down. But you have respite so repent. You don't have to see or believe in air to breathe and you sure don't have to believe in hell to burn.

Kevin Parry said...

Anon wrote:
God is more than fair he's merciful

Hi Anon. No, we don't excuse murderers or rapists, but in a humane society we try and implement restorative justice (and prison might be a way to do this) where we try our best to restore the perpetrators to a place where they rediscover their humanity, and they work towards fixing the harm they caused. We often give them another chance to contribute as peaceful citizens in society.

The concept of hell is totally repulsive to me because it holds onto an extreme form of retributive justice, where the aim is not to bring the perpetrator to a place of healing, but to harm them even more in the most horrible way. Hell is the most extreme form of violence, and a God who justifies such violence and destructiveness does not deserve an inkling of my worship or respect.

Moreover, hell is not fair at all: no action, however horrible, justifies eternal punishment. And is it fair that a peaceful, kind atheist like me will suffer just as much as Hitler will?

Sorry, hell is a topic that steams me up a bit :-) But thanks for commenting and keep well.

Michael said...

"God predestines no one to go to hell; for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want 'any to perish, but all to come to repentance' " (CCC 1037)

One must commit a serious sin and persist in it until death. Therefore, the concept of accidentally committing such a sin is just not possible.

This act must be committed with full knowledge and consent of the will. It is done in a purposeful way that cannot be mistaken for an accident. People who maintain this choice are not hard to miss.

The third chapter of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, which is of course the sixth movie in the series, actually gives an excellent dramatization of this reality.

Anakin Skywalker turns slowly towards the dark side of the Force. He has purposefully rejected the guidance that leads him away from the wrong path.

Yet, this itself is not the ultimate act that leads him into evil. It is walking down that road to where he finally gives himself over to the emperor, a purposeful act on his part that solidifies his status.

However, it continues. One of the most powerful scenes in the movie is at the climax when Anakin, now Darth Vader, is blinded by his evil and turns to Obi Wan Kenobi. They are surrounded by a whole volcanic world where they meet.

This, the former Anakin claims, is his new kingdom. He is completely blind to the fact that the planet is a wasteland.

http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=4575

TAN KS said...

OH MY FRIEND ,
WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT, OR WHETHER WE BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE IS A PLACE CALL HELL AND THERE IS A PERSON CALL GOD.
WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT, WHETHER WE BELIEVE IT OR NOT , SOMEDAY YOU AND ME ARE GOING TO DIE.
SO WHETHER YOU LOVE GOD OUT OF FEAR OR WHETHER YOU LOVE GOD OUT OF SINCERE LOVE, GOD WILL ALWAYS BE GOD.
IF WE CHOOSE TO BELIEVE NOT ON HIM THAT MEANS WE ARE CHOOSING TO REJECT HIM. AS OUR MAKER HE HAS EVERY RIGHT TO DO THINGS ACCORDING TO HIS WISDOM AND WILL. HE IS THE KING OF KINGS AND THE LORD OF LORDS.
FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON THAT WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH ON HIM SHOULD NOT PERISHED BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIVE. HE THAT HATH THE SON HATH LIFE AND HE THAT HAD NOT THE SON HAD NOT LIFE BUT THE WRATH OF GOD ABIDETH ON HIM.
CHOOSE WISELY.
KISS THE SON LEST HE BE ANGRY WITH YOU.

Kevin Parry said...

Hi Tan KS

How does shouting (i.e., using all caps) help your statements?

And how do you know what you've actually said is actually true?

Keep well, and thanks for popping by.
Kevin

wedie2soon said...

Hmmm...to the goofball, and hate-filled Michael Gormley ( and others like him ): people do not send themselves to hell. First, that is totally illogical, and furthermore, nobody is going to send themselves to such a place. Your cold-hearted and egomaniac God judges them, and then sends them to hell for not doing what he commands them to do. Also, love doesn't work in such a way. However, those who are power hungry and are the furthest from love act and believe in such a foul way. Everlasting torture, under any circumstances, is just plain wicked and heartless. Strange, that I wouldn't send anyone to hell ( and I'm foul and evil - according to the christian God, anyway ), yet a " perfect " loving God would?? Ummm...yeah, right. The real truth: God doesn't love us, he is in love with himself. BOOM!!!!

Anonymous said...

Its obvious and evident that these fear mongering screaming rascals are making hell on earth making the excuse that "we send ourselves to hell". I got schizophrenic and paranoid over hell because of these motherfuckers and I was such a fool to believe them but I will forgive them because we are supposed to. Now they caused me to get paranoid of God all the time and behave like a pussy its ruining my relationship with God so these people are obviously evil. By the way that is how my aunt died because of these fear mongeres she died because she refused operation as these people told her she was possessed by demons when it was a simple stomach blockage. These fear mongering people should be banished into exile and not come out to scare people to hell. Even fearful people will go to hell according to some verse so any ways you guys are not helping AT ALL. The only sensible way for me is to listen to my conscience the one that says "No. Don't get brainwashed. Listen to your conscience. The creator gave you a brain to discern right from wrong. Do not end up like the fear mongerers!! You have a life to live. You definitely do not want to spend your whole life worrying about hell don't you? Isn't Christianity all about love, why are most fear mongering christians filled with fear and hate? Answer: They have been brainwashed to fear without rational thinking. I definitely saw which was the true and loving voice and the threatening angry voice telling me to fear hell 24/7.

Anonymous said...

I just came across this blog after a full year and a half being freed from the fear of hell! Wow! I can see how so many in the church have been brought to Christianity through fear- but I would encourage you to not judge Jesus by what the church does. Even when religion damned people, Jesus loved them. The message of hell fear is from the church, Not Jesus! A year ago I was reading stories of christians who go to hell, and almost a year went by with fearing everything I did was a sin... The fear grew until it began to strain my marriage. I cried out to God for understanding, and in His GRACE He has brought me freedom. I won't argue if there's a literal hell or not, but as a Jesus follower I know no fear. Fear is a tactic of the enemy of Jesus who is Satan. So freeing when you know that WE are not the enemy of God deserving wrath, but that we were being abused by Satan whom we were bound by, and because God loved us SO much, He sent Jesus to avenge us from Satan! I no longer fear when I fall because I know the freedom Jesus blood has given me- I know His forgiveness runs deeper than my sin, and because of this I love Him, not fear Him. Funny how the bible days His Kindness leads us to repentance- the church try's fear. I looked up all the 'fears' in the bible and if you look at the Greek word order it NEVER says that we need to FEAR God(wrathfull fear)... Check out refugerevchurch on YouTube and listen for yourself. For those of you who are Christians, a full year and a half it's taken to get a revelation of this! Just watch it, ask the Hilt Spirit for insight and revelation. Ps the Holy Spirit is the expression on The Fear of The Lord :)

Anonymous said...

I came to know Jesus on January 2013. Today is March 9, 2013 and for the past 2 months, I have been plagued with fear, doubt, guilt, anger etc because of my extreme phobia for hell. Before my conversion, I used to be fairly happy and carefree but now, I have become very gloomy, pessimistic and unhappy. I am concerned about my family members and I think they will end up in hell. I always wonder why god created me in the first place. I also developed scrupulosity. My fear for hell gets worse whenever I read the bible because every other verse on the bible is along the lines of condemnation, punishment and fire.

Anonymous said...

It's always sad to me that so many would-be or new Christians are instructed in such incompetent ways. I’ve believed in God all of my life thanks to my grandparents and parents of classmates who took me to church. I remember sometimes hearing more about the consequences of rejecting Christ outright than learning that Christianity didn’t mean living in a constant state of paranoia or feeling above or better than the next person. I also remember as a teenager being shown a video at a church featuring what happens to unborn babies during an abortion. Yes, it was too much reality too fast, and that pastor lost his congregation as he should have.
About four years ago, when I was 43, I bailed out of a popular secular online university (disgusted with a brazen assignment) and enrolled at Liberty University where I came to understand the nature of the loving gift that’s available to us. All we have to do is believe in what was accomplished for us and say yes to it…to Him. We’re given a choice. How can we resent having options when we make hundreds of decisions every day, many that don’t end well?
We can make one faithful decision to believe what Jesus taught before, through, and after His voluntary suffering and death. He earned a pardon for our bad decisions so we don’t have to worry about or avoid thoughts of what happens after this. I think we all sense time to time that this can’t be all there is.
Jesus believed in hell. He talked about it and “the evil one”. He cried for our lack of belief when He was on earth, and I think He still does and will until He’s told it’s time to come clean up the messes we’ve made.