Ideas I’ve picked up about God (that I’m learning to let go of)

God can do whatever He wants because He is God. And no matter what He does you must view Him as and worship Him as good.

God is angry and violent.

Hell will be filled with more people than heaven.

God demanded a human sacrifice in order to be pleased with humans again.

God is glorified by tormenting people. And for some unfathomable reason He will torture the majority of His image bearers ( if you stick with a “traditional” view of hell).

Might makes right.

God is more concerned about abortion and condemning LGBT individuals than just about anything else happening in His world today.

All it takes to be “saved” is to say a prayer.

God cares about the lives He created until He doesn’t. Don’t think too hard about it. Just be happy you (presumably) made it safely into His eternal life boat.

People are just a means to an end. Only God matters. His creation has no right to question or complain.

God isn’t interested in (or able to) reconcile and save all or even most of the people He created.

God created woman to serve man. Submission and serving is pretty much a one way street. Though the opportunity to “serve” via leadership positions is mysteriously something women were just not considered worthy to do.

The “Good News” is really only good for a small portion of the world’s population.

This is the short list of some of the toxic ideas I’m realizing and naming regarding my understanding of God. Writing some of these things down is a way I’ve found to be helpful in working out these unhelpful and sometimes blasphemous ideas. Some of these messages were obviously not presented so blatantly but still what I reasoned out from many things I learned in church, college, Bible studies, ect. And as the title says I’m learning to let go of these ideas.


“I realized that I was tired of being comfortable with sickness and death and inequality; so, too, was I tired of being overwhelmed with all of the places where it seemed that God was absent. I was tired of trying to fix all the problems on my own, of placing the burdens of the world on my own shoulders. I had reached a breaking point, where I no longer believed I could save anybody and I didn’t know if God could either. I, unlike the majority of people at the service, was afraid to give up my false sense of control. I was afraid of looking foolish, of deciding to truly believe that a very good God was at work in the world.

I was nervous to live in a world that seemed inhabited by so few, to refuse to assimilate into a life either of despair or of religious platitudes.

But really, when it comes down to it, I was scared that God might ask me to wave my own freakish, shimmering flag around – to declare that he loved all of us, when everything around me seemed to contradict this statement.”  -D.L. Mayfield 

Weekly Ponderings

Here are some things that made me think this past week. Inclusion does not equal a full endorsement of everything in each post or at the sites they are linked to. Some parts are in bold because they stood out to me as particularly good points. To read each blog in its entirety click on the link beneath each excerpt.

“I was a good Christian once. I meant well. I was very sincere. I have all the training. I prayed all the prayers…

I am, in short, not the person you would’ve picked to become a heretic. Not the person you would’ve picked to abandon Republicanism and the theological giants of the 1980’s. Not the person you would’ve picked to believe marriage ought not be confined to one man and one woman. Not the person you would’ve picked to deeply doubt a Literal Hell. Not the person you’d think would come to believe others’ salvation doesn’t depend on me at all…

When I watched people suffer and become more disenfranchised than ever because of your interpretation of Scripture and your imposition of that on their lives, so very unlike Jesus’ response to the marginalized, you lost me…

When I brought home my precious baby girl from Vietnam and you said, “At least she’s not black,” you lost me…

When my gender and sexual minority friends found no sanctuary or succor with you — when you insisted you loved them while they committed suicide at alarming rates in even larger numbers inside faith communities and you did nothing other than spout Bible verses, nothing to save their lives, nothing to set aside your cold recitation of culturally-proscribed, modern, fundamentalist theology — you lost me. You lost me, you lost me, you lost me, and, more importantly, you lost them.

When I watched you actually believe you’re as hurt, as victimized, as terribly sad, as those who’ve been perpetually and systematically disenfranchised and abandoned by the Church, you lost me.

You lost me.

Jesus won me. Love owns me. And you lost me. Which is fine.

I live now in a place where I’m called a heretic regularly. Where I’m told I’m leading people astray. Where my convictions are not welcome in the church I chose once upon a time. And it’s a strange gift. Because I’m free. Free to love others fully. No longer restrained by false parameters. And I’ve found, as many who’ve wandered in the wilderness, that nothing — no one — no theology — no church — can separate me from the Love of God. Or stop me from spreading that Unlimited Love-of-God heresy to others.

And so I bid you good night. And send love. And Love. And wave in the dark, always and forever.

How I Became a Heretic (or How the Evangelical, Conservative Church Lost Me by Beth Woolsey

“I lose my cool.

“I don’t think I was clear enough — the tattoo for me was a dealbreaker. I take you at your word that the flag doesn’t mean anything racist to you. But that’s all it means to me,” I text back…

He is offended and shoots back that he can’t “believe [he] is being judged for something he did 20 years ago.”

“Well, then I’m sure it’s my loss,” I respond. I’m not sure he gets that I’m being sarcastic, and that makes me laugh…

After Charlottesville, a friend asks if I believe everyone who marched to protect Confederate statues is racist. I think of my date and his tattoo and his indignation and my coffee. Had he been racist? Do I care?

My friend wonders if maybe it’s possible to bring some of those people to our side if they don’t feel so attacked.

I tell him I can’t bring myself to care about their feelings, and he is surprised by my reaction. He’s an old friend. I used to be cooler when he knew me well.

I believe in grace for people who are imperfect allies and generosity for those interested in learning but haven’t yet. But I no longer believe the comfort of white men is more precious than my own. They brought weapons. They clearly don’t mind if we feel attacked.

It’s not that I think allegiance to a Confederate flag or monument automatically makes someone racist. It’s that I don’t care whether they are or not. It’s a dealbreaker for me. Maybe that makes me cavalier — or cool. Maybe my friend is right, and some of them could be brought to our side if people like me invested energy in making them feel less judged and more welcome. But since I don’t, they stay on their side.

I’m sure it’s my loss.”

This “cool black girl” is gone by Maya Rupert

“I can barely figure out how my microwave works, let alone interpret how a horrific weather event is being wielded by God to teach you or me or gay couples a lesson—and I’d feel like a reckless fraud pretending I know what’s happening. I guess guys like Kirk Cameron and Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson know better, though I’m doubtful…

Maybe we who claim faith should refrain from pretending we understand how this world works when it comes to faith and pain and suffering.
Maybe we should admit the mystery, discomfort, and the tension that spirituality yields in painful, terrifying times.

Maybe when people are being terrorized by nature or by the inhumanity around them, instead of shouting sermons at them—we should shut up and simply try to be a loving, compassionate presence.
Maybe we should stop trying to make God into something as petty, hateful, judgmental, and cruel as we are.

If the God you’re following and preaching to people in their times of pain is an a-hole—it’s probably not God at all.

It’s probably just you.                                                                                                                       

If Your God is a Jerk – It Might Be You by John Pavlovitz

“As Christians we have to ask what we are really after. Do we want people to look like they are changed by Jesus or do we want people to actually be changed by Jesus? Do we want to encourage people—albeit unintentionally—to have a form of godliness but reject the power of Christ that actually transforms their lives? (2 Timothy 3:5)…

I’m not saying we should promote lawlessness and allow people to rob and murder as they wish with no repercussions. And yes, I recognize there is an inherent moral quality in declaring some things legal and illegal based on their impact on society, even if all people may not agree on where that moral standard comes from. But we need to evaluate whether laws are God’s primary method of producing morality and change in people. They are not.

There’s a problem when our God-given assignment as Christians is to be messengers of reconciliation with God and our methods are pushing people away from Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)

Christians don’t have the right to live completely separated from people who don’t share the beliefs and practices of their faith.

The Constitution affords rights to all citizens of our nation of free speech, freedom of the press, freedom to practice their respective faiths or not practice any faith at all. These rights don’t only apply to Christians. By the way some Christians react to people doing and saying things that are different than their Christian beliefs, you wouldn’t know it though.

People have a right to live in ways you disagree with.

That right, greater than being afforded by American law even, is afforded by God because He gives all humans free will and calls them to follow Him by choice, not force. No, He doesn’t agree with sin or rebellion against Him. Yes, there are eternal consequences for unrepentant sin against God. Yes, God wants every person to repent of their sin and be saved. Every person, however, has to respond to His call by their own choice (Acts 17:30-31).

Further, nowhere in the Bible does it say that Christians should hide in a bubble and avoid everyone who isn’t like them. It says the opposite, actually (Matthew 5:14-161 Corinthians 5:9-13).

If Jesus interacted with people who didn’t yet believe in Him and follow His commands, then we as Christians should interact with people who don’t yet share the beliefs and practices our faith—and not just to convert them.

Jesus preached the gospel to people who did not know Him. He called them to leave their sin and follow Him, but He also shared meals and conversation with them...”                  

The Biblical Case Against ‘Legislating Morality’ by Jasmin Patterson




When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendors of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion, its message becomes meaningless.      – Abraham Joshua Heschel

My problems with hell part II

There were some other thoughts I forgot in my first post regarding hell so I figured I’d just write a part 2. Again I’m arguing against the eternal conscious torment understanding that I was taught growing up.

One really big problem with hell is that for all the talk of a happily ever after for the ones God saves (no tears, no more death, ect. as understood in Revelation) hell throws a few monkey wrenches into that scenario.

If hell is eternal then sin, evil, pain, and suffering will exist alongside of us for eternity regardless of whether we see it or not. How is this a victory for God? Sure some might say it displays His wrath and anger against sin but it will also stand as an eternal testament to God’s failure to love, redeem and restore the majority of His image bearers.

1 John tells us that perfect love casts out fear. How many times does are we told not to fear in the Bible? Yet hell keeps most Christians I know in constant fear and anxiety wondering about their loved ones. And if they manage to somehow make peace with God torturing the majority of humanity that seems pretty problematic since Christians are supposed to love everyone (no exceptions). Yet even if we do love those around us now apparently those feelings of love and concern will evaporate upon death and we will spend eternity indifferent to those who have missed the boat and are suffering endlessly for it.

In my first post I listed some books I’ve read on this subject but I didn’t really spend time showing Scriptural support. Below is a chart showing three of the main possible understandings of hell with Bible verses that could support each theory. Frankly I find the Annihilation column to be a bit weak here but have read books and other peoples writings that build a much better case from the Bible some of which are referenced beneath the chart.

As an addendum here is a link to a blog post by Benjamin Corey further illustrating Scriptural support for the annihilation position titled 25 Bible verses that disprove eternal conscious hell.

At this point though I don’t consider myself a universalist I am sympathetic to the view and would not be at all disappointed to discover that God chose to love and save most if not all of humankind. For anyone who doesn’t like the idea of everyone being saved I genuinely have to wonder what that person’s understanding of love is.

And I am not one to think sin is something to be taken lightly. I hate the evil I’ve seen on this planet in my short life. But I want to see and believe that healing, redemption and restoration will be accomplished more fully than any of us could begin to realize. And I think only God can make this happen.

There is a reason God presents Himself as a Father throughout the Bible. And for anyone who thinks some sins are simply unforgivable or that He really puts a timeframe on how long He will wait for repentance I would like to ask a couple questions.

If you are a parent (just imagine even if you aren’t) what would your child have to do in order for you to start torturing him/her as punishment for whatever it was they did to you?

Would you/have you put time limits on how long you will wait for a loved one to reconcile themselves to you?

Another problem I have with hell is that if it is in fact part of the reality that God has created then the Gospel (good news) isn’t really that great or unique. Every religion that offers relief from an angry, vengeful god can claim it has good news to offer you. How is Christianity different?

Here is another thought that helped push me away from the ETC position regarding hell. Since the rise of ISIS ( a terrorist group that known for some of the worst brutalities happening in the world today) I have seen various people ask how people (particularly Christians) can be repulsed by things like ISIS burning people alive yet we are fine with the idea of God doing that to most people for all of eternity. Benjamin Corey covers this in a post as well and as he wrote quite succinctly “… God is not like an ISIS terrorist burning his enemies – but God is actually Jesus on the cross dying for his.”

Along these same lines one of the books I mentioned in my other post makes this observation regarding God’s hatred of child sacrifice (Lev. 18:21, Duet. 18:10,  2Kings:17:17, Jer. 7:31):

We ought to also note the irony and incongruence of the Church utilizing the very place where God became violently offended by the literal burning of children as our primary metaphor for a final and eternal burning of God’s wayward people in literal flames. Thus, God becomes the very Molech who decrees that the angels must deliver his children to the flames, even though this is the very reason he ordered Hinnom to be desecrated in the first place.”
From Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hope, Hell, and The New Jerusalem by Bradley Jersak

Ultimately I can no longer square this “traditional” view of hell with a God who is supposed to be above all other gods in his offering of love, kindness and hope to humanity.


Weekly Ponderings

Here are some articles and blog posts that made me think and taught me something new. Inclusion does not equal a full endorsement of everything at each link. Some parts I put in bold because they stood out to me. To read the entire article click on the link beneath each excerpt. ( The last quote and article is long but insightful for anyone interested in spotting predatory behavior and helps answer why abusers can often be found in places like church).

“If your doubts become so overwhelming that you wonder if you are losing your faith altogether, then you are in good company.

Having serious doubts about the faith that has been a (possibly the) central part of your life can be unsettling, confusing, and scary…

It’s still a widespread assumption that being a Christian is mostly about what you believe. Of course, how you choose to live is important — there are very few Christians who would deny that. But it seems to me that what matters most to the majority of Christians is believing certain doctrinal statements. If you accept these statement as fact, you are saved; not by doing good works, but by asserting the validity of a particular set of intellectual propositions

It’s fine (and necessary) to have ideas and theories and doctrines about God, provided we remember that as long as they are contained within language and can fit neatly into human brains, they are utterly inadequate. A human claiming to understand God is not dissimilar to a fruit fly landing on the tail of a Boeing 747 and claiming to understand the intricacies of aeronautical engineering.”
Faith in the Fog: Surviving as a Skeptical Christian by Emma Higgs

“Having a transgender child can be terrifying because loving my daughter without boundaries means my heart is broken over and over again by people telling me I don’t know what love is. It is terrifying to know some people think I am abusing my child for “allowing” her to believe she is a girl. It is terrifying to live in a world where people are so uncomfortable with what they don’t understand that they prefer to spit hate than ask for more information.”                                                                                                                         I Have A Transgender Child, And I Will Keep Telling Our Story Until The Hate Stops by Amber Leventry

“Someone recently asked me to come up with a list of 5 common misunderstandings I’ve noticed Americans tend to have about the Middle East, here they are:

1) It’s dangerous.  Sure, some parts are very dangerous but so much of the Middle East is much less dangerous than even the US.  If fact, a recent report ranked Jordan as less dangerous than the US – Global Peace Index 2017 So lets be careful not to discount the entire region as untravelable, when there are so many beautiful and safe places to visit in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and more!

2) People in the Middle East don’t like Americans and/or Christians.  Two places in particular that I have spent time that should reflect this, if it were significantly true, would be Palestine and Iraq.  Both places have lots of reasons to not be thrilled with someone like me, however, when I have gone and continue to go there and elsewhere in the Middle East, I am welcomed with unmatched hospitality.  I am openly American (with a couple truly unique exceptions you are very unlikely to find yourselves in) and open about my faith.   The key is not being an a$$hole about either, no one, anywhere likes it when we’re are being a$$holes 😉 …..”                                                                                   5 Common Misunderstandings About The Middle East by Rich A Rosendahl

“…there are a host of reasons why predators join organizations and if you think like a predator, it makes perfect sense. But there is something disturbing about why they would choose the clergy, or for that matter join a religious organization of any kind. It is disturbing because most of us don’t think about these things. Most people don’t think like a predator, but below are some insights that should make you think. These insights are based on conversations I and others have had with predators who intentionally sought to join religious organizations and from studying such individuals:

1.   As noted earlier, within organizations, predators have access to a ready/available pool of potential victims. Within a religious order, those potential victims are identified for the predator, who knows how often they will get together and where (Sunday worship service at 11:00 am, at the local chapel, for example). Metronomic frequency of meetings creates opportunities for the predator to exploit directly, or even at a distance, such as committing burglaries based on knowing precisely when no one is home.

2.   Some religious organizations require members to expose their faults, sins, or frailties in public. This is “manna from heaven” for predators who then use that information to better access or target their victims. Information like that serves to provide all the exploitable weaknesses a predator needs. As one predator told me, “With that kind of information I know exactly who to target and when.”

5.   Many religious organizations preach forgiveness, even for felonies. For predators this is truly a godsend. This means that if they get caught, they can ask for forgiveness and chances are it will be given, in a pious but naïve effort to help the lawbreaker “learn from his mistakes.” Unfortunately, the predator sees this as an opportunity to sharpen his skills and to do his crime again, perhaps this time more carefully

13.   Predators know or soon learn that society tends to revere and not question religious authority. People of high status such as famous coaches, TV personalities, politicians, and so on are often given great latitude to the point where allegations of misconduct, even serious criminal offenses are often ignored (Jimmy Savile in the UK; O.J. Simpson in the US).

14.   Parents may be more trusting of a religious leader than of the average person. As history has taught us, they may dismiss allegations made by their own children as to sexual abuse by a religious leader or they will remain quiescent so as to not “rock the boat.” It is very tough for parents, especially those from humble background or who are deeply religious, to go up against a popular or charismatic leader, “the church” or a large, well-financed religious order. Often, as we now well know, the fear of retribution, being ostracized or socially marginalized, or excommunicated keeps victims and parents silent. ”                                                                                                                                                   Why Predators Are Attracted to Careers in the Clergy by Joe Navarro

Links on Charlottesville

Yes I know its a bit late but I decided to just share some thoughts by others regarding this sad event in US history. After weeks of being unable to come up with a way to adequately  describe my anger and frustration about it all I figure I may as well highlight those who managed to be more articulate in the moment. Click on the titles of the articles below each quote to read the posts in their entirety. (Some of the parts I (as well as the original authors) put in bold because they deserve emphasis).

“A group of about 5 anti-fascists tried to persuade some of us clergy to join them in taking on the White Supremacists by fighting with them, not simply standing our ground in peace. We explained our role and belief in non-violence and ensured they also stayed off premises if they intended to participate in violence. They explained their desire to fight on behalf of all those who cannot, to draw the fight and violence to themselves and take on the White Supremacists and Nazis head on if they had to.

These individuals and groups were far outnumbered and brave in their own way; while I do not advocate violence, and condemn it in all ways, I must acknowledge that these individuals were willing to put themselves in harm’s way, not in protest or for their own interests, but on behalf of all threatened by those yelling their desire to harm or kill Jews, Blacks, Muslims, GBLTQ, liberals, police, anyone in their way, anyone trying to change the order of the world as it is.”

Charlottesville: a first-hand account of racist violence by Deborah Porras

“I can’t fathom the fact that still so many are silent. Still, on this Sunday we see many Christian pastors refusing to take an active stance against the clear violent racism in this nation. I’m sure some won’t speak out because they probably also hold some racist ideology but others, other pastors won’t speak out because they have a fear of losing some of the support of their congregation which has overpowered their desire to follow the ways of Jesus…

You see, there is a right and wrong side when it comes to hate, bigotry, and oppression. There is a right and wrong side when it comes to the deeply ingrained racism that floods our nation. There are not “many sides” there are two, the side of basic humanity and the side against it.”

If We Don’t Want to See another Charlottesville – Silence is Not an Option by Sheri Faye Rosendahl

“Most people know racism when they see it (when people on the passive level see people on the soft level or higher), but just don’t say or do anything about it. But, what if this majority became active? What if we all agreed to, kindly, inform others that we’re not going to let people around us say or do racist things? What if, instead of blaming the president, or Nazis, or the alt-right, we took responsibility for our actions and the people in our own lives?

We must begin to speak up because by being passive and letting racist jokes and statements slide, we are literally building the foundation on which the KKK, Neo Nazi, and White Supremacist’s groups are built at the top of the pyramid. It doesn’t matter if it makes you uncomfortable or if it hurts your relationships, people are literally dying because the masses aren’t speaking up for those without a voice.

It is also easy to just cut off our friends and family who are soft and quiet racists. But, it is our job to stand up when racist ideas are brought up. As white people, we have an audience with our families and white circles that the black community will never have. If we do not start to have these conversations at the lower levels of the pyramid, who will?

So yes, Charlottesville was my fault, and your fault, and the fault of anyone who is not standing up to racism in our daily lives. Please, please, don’t be defensive, but take a moment to attempt to see that silence really is compliance.

I’m making a stand today to no longer sit by and let these things happen. I hope you’ll consider standing with me.”

Charlottesville was my Fault by Josh Bryan

“And here’s where this all applies to the nonsense of there is “fault on both sides” between the nazis and the protestors recently:

It forces those on the Religious Right to do a full reversal from what they say to me every day.

You see, every time they push back on the doctrine of nonviolent enemy love, they quickly go to the same arguments. As they escalate the scenarios they believe proves my position of nonviolence wrong or foolish, they always (and I mean always) end up pulling out the same trump-card, as if it were the Mother of All Rebuttals as to why the way of nonviolence is wrong:

“Oh yeah!? Well what about the Nazis in World War II? Thank God the last generation knew that evil like this can only be stopped with violence.”

I’ve heard the argument a thousand times from a thousand people on the right, right up until recent events where Nazis marched through American streets, injuring and killing people. But then? Well, apparently they now think that opposing Nazis with violence makes one equally wrong.

So here’s my sincere question for my Christian friends on the right trying to call me out for not saying both sides were equally wrong: didn’t you just tell me that you believe in using violence against nazis? 

Don’t lie– we both know you did, and that you did it nearly every time I posted an article on nonviolence.

So why the change?

Why do you believe that violent opposition to Nazis in WWII was not just necessary, but good, but that somehow in today’s world the willingness to use violence to oppose this same evil is now morally equivalent to the evil itself?

Dear Religious Right: Didin’t You Just Finish Telling Me You Believe in Violence against Nazis? by Benjamin L. Corey

America has yet to deal with the lessons of our own history. We have never been utterly conquered so that we had to. The lessons of slavery and Jim Crow segregation–all predicated on claims of white supremacy–have yet to be fully learned or even fully acknowledged. Our walls are not made of concrete and barbed wire, but they remain walls. Our churches have sometimes defended those walls, to our everlasting shame.

Letter from Berlin: The Lessons of History and the Heresy of Racial Superiority by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

There is this tendency to want blame the acts of the white supremacists and neo-nazis on Donald Trump, to make him the scapegoat. But that is looking at it completely in reverse. Donald Trump is a product of the same racist system that caused the rally and the subsequent domestic terrorism. He isn’t the first Trump to be associated with racist white supremacist groups. His father was arrested at a KKK rally. David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, thanked Donald Trump for ‘condemning leftist terrorists’. Donald and his father was sued in 1973 for systematically discriminating against black people when it came to housing. Racism and the Trumps go way back. It makes absolute sense that he took two days to condemn the white nationalists. It makes even more sense that he went on TV, Tuesday, August 15, and essentially took it all back. He has a base to keep happy. As a lead white supremacist, Matthew Heimbach, said “Our values, and the ones that helped get Trump elected, can’t be compromised on”

Racism in America has been around as long as America has been around. America was founded on the systematic genocide of indigenous people and then built on the backs and births of kidnapped black folks. There is no period in our history that isn’t tainted with the racism and intolerance that caused the death of Heather Heyer on this past Saturday, August 12.”

Unpacking: Charlottesville by Joshua Bull

“You cannot be both a patriotic American and a Confederate. It does not work like that. It has long struck me as odd that the American South, which claims to be more patriotic and genuinely American than the “liberal elites” on the coasts, is dotted with statues of Confederate generals. These generals were traitors.”

You Cannot Be a Patriotic American and a Confederate by Libby Anne

“White people especially need to name racism in this hour, because somewhere in that crowd of sweaty, dead-eyed, raw throated white men—are our brothers and cousins and husbands and fathers and children; those we go to church with and see at Little League and in our neighborhoods. They need to be made accountable by those they deem their “own kind.” They need to know that this is not who we are, that we don’t bless or support or respect this. They need white faces speaking directly into their white faces, loudly on behalf of love.”
Yes This is Racism by John Pavlovitz


Examine your hearts and do the work of uprooting the racism in yourself (in church we call this “repentance”). Be aware of your privilege and find ways to use it for good. Read books by women and people of color and seek out their wisdom. Ask questions and educate yourself. Be sincere in your desire to eradicate racism, don’t just do it to make yourself look good or earn points with your black friends…”


“Writing this piece was like falling down a rabbit hole of all that I didn’t know. I am not an expert in this field and I don’t pretend to be. What I am is a writer, someone who is interested in things, and I became very, very interested in why so many of us grew up without hearing or understanding the history of lynchings in America. (And lynchings is only a small part of it–there were massacres and lack of civil rights such as voting and education . . . the history of racial injustice seemingly has no end). A few years ago, when it really started to sink in about both the realities of lynchings and the response of white Christian communities to them, it was like a veil had been lifted. But I wasn’t just horrified. I was implicated. Lynchings were not just public executions–they were strategies for terrorizing black people and for uniting white people under a banner of supremacy and “order”. One of the most chilling photographs is one from Marion, Indiana in 1930. How can I not see my own face reflected here?”

My problems with hell (ECT)

Here are some of my various random thoughts and objections to the doctrine of eternal conscious torment (as I was taught growing up). This is not an exhaustive list but highlights of some of my thoughts over the past few years regarding this subject.

Why couldn’t God be bothered to warn Adam and Eve about this terrible place when He warned them not to eat of that one tree?

God is no different than a roman emperor if He crushes his enemies in the end. A roman emperor crushing his enemies under his feet is exactly what (I thought) Jesus came to contradict not eventually become.

Anyone who things God is violent and vengeful and enjoys inflicting pain and suffering on others seriously needs to reconsider whether they’ve made a god in the image of evil men.

Why would I follow a god who is too incompetent or straight up refuses to redeem most of his world?

If God was a sadist how would the world look any different? Actually “evidence” would seem to support this is more likely the case than not if you insist on believing in hell.

Seems strange that God gets to torture people and be worshiped for it (which is what I thought Satan wants for us but won’t get) yet the difference is simply that God has the right to do whatever he wants so that makes it all ok.

So basically even though I’ve heard that Satan is the ‘enemy of our souls’ God is really the one who will hurt more people/souls for far longer than Satan ever could when all is said and done.

And while I might be willing to concede the point that God has the right to do whatever He wants I don’t agree that He can demand I call him good and worship him as such when clearly hatred and wrath supersede all other aspects of his character.

Ultimately if hell is true than eternity will display God’s hatred towards people more than his love.

God doesn’t seem to give us any good choices. Either join Him and be indifferent (even celebrate) his sadism or become a victim of that sadism. Join or be tortured.

Any pain someone suffers in this life pales in comparison to hell. So the pain of things like rape, abuse, and murder isn’t really so bad all things considering. And most likely anyone who has suffered in this way will end up alongside their abuser in hell. In the end more people than not will suffer grave injustice and never see it made right in this life or the next.

What kind of a god creates a world/makes a plan where he is most glorified by eternally tormenting the majority of the people he made?

If the price tag for God’s great plan is pain and suffering in this world and hell in the next for most people then God clearly enjoys hurting people more than loving, redeeming and restoring them and I refuse to believe that anymore.

And just a caveat: I have read my Bible (many times over) as well as various books on this subject over the years. As I’m discovering with many things in life this isn’t as straight forward as many in the Christian community would have you believe.

Some books I’ve read that cover this subject in varying degrees:

Razing Hell by Sharon L. Baker

Raising Hell by Julie Ferwerda

Hell a Final Word by Edward William Fudge

Her Gates Will Never Be Shut by Bradley Jersak

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God by Brian Zahn