I was late arriving to a post stream, but was immediately taken by the conversation. Someone had a problem with their pastor mentioning the eternal punishment in hell of those who don’t have faith in Christ. Preferring to believe that the destruction of the soul is biblical, they asked the group for reasons to believe in the more traditional position.
What followed was both interesting and disheartening. It started slowly, with people agreeing with her pastor, but saying it matter-of-factly. As it began to pickup steam, people began to insist that eternal punishment of the soul was “clearly” taught in scripture, though little biblical evidence was presented. You could sense the frustrations rising as the original poster would not accept what was so “obvious” and continued to ask for biblical support.
It was then that the stream went from interesting to disheartening. As people began to give scripture passages that did not prove their position, they became angry, sharp, cynical, and sarcastic. In fairness, the passages that were offered was evidence of the existence of hell, but did not clearly evidence the eternal torture of souls. It was possible to see the destruction of the soul in the given passages.
The more the original poster rightly insisted upon appropriate biblical evidence, the more frustrated and angry the stream became. Others began to insist that what they believed was right, repeating themselves emphatically, using all caps in some cases.
I was waiting in vain for someone to offer an explanation or exposition of scripture that would address the poster’s concern. As I felt my own frustrations rising, no one was making an argument. At least not one that addressed the question on the table. It seemed they were chastising the original poster for stepping out of line, with little concern for what she had to say. I was reminded why Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. While seeing they do not see. While hearing they do not hear.
I’m not sure most in the thread ever actually hear the original post concern. Most responded as if the post questioned the existence of hell and they circled the wagons to protect their faith, or better, their position. But this was not faith in God, this was a willful and tenacious faith in their own faith. This was a refusal to consider even the possibility of being wrong. They wouldn’t even look again at the scripture they themselves offered.
For many, changing what you believe about God and losing your faith in God feels the same.Tweet
Some of you may have noticed that I have not given my position on the original post. You would be right. I haven’t, because that’s not the point. The point is that if we don’t listen to each other we will never agree or find a unity of the faith. If we don’t hear each other we can’t love each other. And as important as it is, doctrinal soundness, by degree, is not our greatest witness to the world. Our greatest witness is the love we have for one another. By it, the world will know we are his followers. So says the Christ himself.