Hellophilia- the fondness or love for the doctrine of eternal conscious torment
Hellophilia is a word I came up with this morning. If I’m supposed to write about something, I’ll often get a synchronicity of at least three events. Two can be a coincidence. Three means, “Write this down”. A couple of nights ago we had some friends over for the Bengals game. As the party was winding down someone brought up church. One of my friends attends the church that Tywana and I stopped going to a couple of years ago. There were a number of reasons I stopped going there. Two of the big ones were their homophobia and their hellophilia, their love for the doctrine of eternal conscious torment. My friend brought up the fact that the church was about to start a series I believe called “Heaven/Hell or Here” or something like that. She said that maybe I wouldn’t want to attend, but the services would be offered on YouTube. So, I might want to check it out. She knows I am a universalist. I believe that everyone will (eventually) be reconciled back to God and I believe this is not only common sense, simply humane, and reasonable, but that the Bible, as flawed as it is, teaches this. OK. I told her I’d be willing to check it out and I would be more than happy to discuss the topic with her any time.
Then, this morning I wake up and there are several comments from my blog “The Beautiful Heresy” in my email inbox. The Beautiful Heresy is a blog I wrote to combat the notion of Hell. I figure some spam bot has found the blog and filled up the comments with spam. The Beautiful Heresy is a blog I started almost a dozen years ago which lays fallow. I haven’t written on the blog in a few years and most of the comments these days are spam from people pushing mortgages or some nonsense. Today, a couple of guys have engaged in a conversation where one is trying desperately to convince the other that in fact God is a monster capable of torturing His own offspring for an eternity and if you think so highly of Him that He won’t, he’ll torture you, too. Interesting that these guys would choose today to go at it. I don’t remember the last time there was a running battle like this on my blog.
The third thing is that, as I’m sitting at my desk, I see an email from my former church. I unsubscribed to their emails a couple of years ago. Again, I don’t remember the last time I saw one from them. It flashes through my in box just long enough for me to see from Brian Tome. “What was that?” I go searching for it in my inbox, in my spam, but I can’t find the email. I know what I saw. I keep searching. Finally, I find it in the trash. It’s an invitation to a new Facebook Live thing they are doing. Cue the Twilight Zone music. Why did this pop through today?
OK. So I email my friend and tell her about the email I got from the church. I tell her I would be more than happy to share my years of research with her any time she wants. Yes, universalism is biblical. What is not biblical is eternal conscious torment. There are a handful of verses, mostly poorly translated, that refer to “hell” (which more often should have been Gehenna with no need of translation). Where Jesus speaks of figurative, redemptive “punishment”. The word that should have been translated “age” or “ages” is translated into forever or forever and ever. There is no mention of post mortem punishment in the “Old Testament”. The idea of eternal conscious torment was only invented by the priestly class and later backed up by the state after the Jewish scriptures were written. Why didn’t/don’t Jews believe this doctrine? Did God forget to tell them? If it’s so important, why is it completely left out of the “Old Testament”? And, no Sheol, is not Hell or a place of torment, King James translators.
More importantly, why the love for the doctrine of eternal conscious torment? Why the hellophilia? I politely visit the comments where theses guys are going at it. I tell them I don’t do this anymore. This is settled science for me. Not only does the Bible not support this, but neither does common sense or experience. Tonight I have a Helping Parents Heal meeting with an afterlife expert where we discuss what people who have actually been to the other side report. There are no reports of eternal conscious torment. Zero, zilch, nada. But, some people cling to a faulty interpretation of a 2,000 year old book put together by people who wanted to manipulate you into thinking they held they keys to your eternal future. No, I ain’t got time to get into this with you. But, I do want to interject a question. Why? Why is so important for you to convince people that God could or would do such a thing? I ask them not to answer, but to just think about it. But, this morning, here it is in my in-box. It’s not that God does such a thing. It’s a “choice”. Just like a parent can’t control his child, God can’t control us and simply sets before us the “choice” to be eternally consciously tormented (without actually telling us directly this is what we are choosing). Some people simply make this choice and God’s respect for free will is stronger than God’s love for us. Our will is stronger than God’s will because the Bible clearly states God wills that none perish. So, He lets us walk into the fire and shuts the door behind us with a shrug of His shoulders. The guy tells me he’s a preacher and he’s never preached fire and brimstone. “What? Why the hell not?” If this is what people are walking into isn’t this the only thing you should be preaching?” I’m tempted to fire back, but, I hold my tongue. This was my life for a few years. OK, preacher, you keep on lulling people into what you believe is a false sense of security. Thank God they’re not in real danger.
Thankfully for him, my friend, and everyone else, they’re wrong about God. I’m more than willing to share my years of research on the subject to anyone who has ears to listen and truly wants to now how amazing and loving God is, apparently too good to be true for many. But, if you want to cling to your hellophilia, that’s your choice. I’ll see you on the flip side where I will say “I told you so.”