Seems like an appropriate question to ask today in light of the dispatch of Usama Bin Ladin.
When I gave up Christianity it was hard for me to realize the ramifications and implications of the decision. I first accepted the concept that there isn’t an afterlife – at least not one described in Christian doctrine. I was OK with the idea that I wouldn’t spend an eternity playing a harp on a cloud in heaven. But, for me anyways, there was a sinking realization that hell didn’t exist either. All of a sudden, telling a jerk to go to hell lost all of its sting. Terrible people like Hitler (not an atheist by the way…), Stalin, Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer – people that I always felt had a special spot in hell reserved just for them – just dead, nothing more. It was almost as depressing as coming to grips with the no heaven epiphany.
Most Christians will agree that Bin Ladin isn’t going to a heaven with 72 virgins to wait on him hand and foot. The Islamic version of heaven, while a competing vision, is soundly rejected by good Christians as impossible to achieve.
That said, some Christian theologians and evangelicals are starting to question hell itself. At least one megachurch leader is even taking the position that there is no hell!
Pastor Rob Bell, leader of the Mars Hill Church outside Grand Rapids, Michigan, in an interview with Time Magazine raised the radical idea that no one is going to hell. Apparently Pastor Bell had a hard time getting his mind around the concept that Gandhi, by virtue of not being a Christian, was damned to an eternity of torment and suffering by a loving god that just hates it when people don’t buy in to the Bible.
Good Christians shouldn’t worry too much yet. There are plenty of evangelicals out there condemning Bell’s nuevo-doctrine. According to Time, “R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says Bell’s book is ‘theologically disastrous.’
“When you adopt universalism and erase the distinction between the church and the world, then you don’t need the church, and you don’t need Christ, and you don’t need the cross. This is the tragedy of nonjudgmental mainline liberalism, and it’s Rob Bell’s tragedy in this book too.” Source
In Christian doctrine there exists an absolute certainty, fundamental to the faith, that the only way to get to heaven in the afterlife is to accept the divinity of Jesus Christ. It’s pretty simple. If you accept this premise, you can commit just about any sin, since all humans are sinners, and as long as you express remorse for the sin, it’s OK – the keys to heaven’s gate await you.
On the flip side, if you reject the premise of the divinity of Christ, accepting that the bible was a compilation of stories and edits over centuries and established as a canon for the faithful in the 4th century and subjected to a plethora of varying interpretations over the last 1,700 years – no matter how good a life you live, you might as well have been a baby-rapist in this life as you are hell bound!
So if my Christian friends are correct and I’m wrong, I get to share a cot in hell with Usama for eternity…At least there will be many others there as well to keep me company.
If I find out god does exist after I die, I imagine the conversation will go something along these lines: