Last week, I talked about the concept of Original Sin and how if one isn’t baptized, he/she would be sent to a fiery torment for all of eternity. If one was baptized, then an eternity in the most holy and glorious place would be the reward. Of course, after an eternity, my question is, “What’s the difference?”
Heaven and Hell (and the other place, more on that later) are concepts that I learned in Catholic school. In case you forgot, or are new here, I was raised Catholic. Pretty much, the above paragraph is what I was taught. If I was good, I would go to Heaven, but if I was bad, I was going to hell. These concepts didn’t last long with me. The biggest problem is that Heaven and Hell make little, if any sense.
The all-loving, all-merciful, all-forgiving God (at least in one breath of a religion class lesson) loves all of us, but if we are bad and cross him, He will send us all to an eternity of fire and brimstone. Except…why? Being a human being of a limited lifespan, any sin we commit would, by necessity, be a finite sin. The idea of an eternal sentence for a measurable misdeed is unjust by definition. Hell is a fictional construct that gives people a comeuppance when they are wronged. The wrongdoer may not be punished here on earth, but whoa nelly, are they going to get it in Hell.
I have even more of a problem with Heaven, believe it or not. Heaven is where the good people go when they die. The people who atoned for their sins and went to church every Sunday (or Saturday evening) would get into Heaven. There they would live in the presence of God and unending happiness forever and ever. Question: What if a happily married couple die, but the husband didn’t atone for his sins prior to shaking off this mortal coil? How could the wife be happy in Heaven for all of eternity when her husband is going to Hell for the same amount of time? Even a convicted murderer on death row is allowed visitors.
How can Heaven and Hell be considered reasonable by any measure of justice?
Oh, right, that other place
One other concept I learned about in school was the concept of Purgatory. It can be summed up by calling it “Hell light” or “Heaven’s waiting room”. Purgatory was a way to get unbaptized babies and not-too-bad people who may not have atoned in time into Heaven without contradicting that whole bad people go to Hell thing. Basically, someone who was good, but didn’t get baptized prior to their death would be sent to an alternate site where there would be some torture and gnashing of teeth, but to a lesser extent and for a shorter-than-eternal period of time. Frankly, I find it a silly idea. My description above may not be church-accurate, but it’s close enough.
There isn’t much to report this week. The blog rolls on as I work my way through Genesis.
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One thought on “Saturday Sermon: Heaven and Hell”
I’ve heard many a sermon end with the words, “But whoa nelly, are they going to get it in Hell.” And yes, it is troubling to consider God putting an eternal punishment on his own creation. Those who think we have no free will are also implying that God creates people for the specific disposition of punishment, as if there is a quota in Hell or that these people are marked to be sacrificed as “lessons” to keep the good people in line. It all comes down to this for me – if you are going to church and following the Bible only out of fear, you’re doing it wrong and I think there are quite a few churches out there that drive the punishment home to keep the people in the pews and the money in the collection plates.
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