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Scared Into Heaven

October 29, 2010

Somehow this strikes me as the opposite evangelistic message of John 3:16. When the love of Jesus just ain’t enough sometimes you just have to play the burn for all eternity card!

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I experienced enough of this as a youth that sometimes I felt like I had one foot in the grave and one foot on a banana peel, and God might have to take me out if I didn’t get my act together. Ah, the sweet neurosis of scared teens just warms the heart of control freaks… 😉

This is bad on so many levels that bad is like all walking away and saying, “Don’t associate me with that crap!”


Don’t forget: Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!… your afterlife on the other hand, well, let’s just not talk about that.

Does anyone know anyone that has become a Christian because they were more scared of hell than attracted to Jesus? “Yeah, you know, I thought Jesus was OK, I mean I wasn’t a Christian or anything, but you know the other option scared the hell out of me–literally–so I figured what could it hurt, I might as well enjoy my afterlife, so I gave my life to Jesus.”

16 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2010 10:00 am

    Fear of separation from God played a major role in my salvation, but not with the likes of this kind of foolishness. As a pastor, I tend to focus on the reconciliatory aspect of the gospel. But think me not a Joel Osteen–I read John 3:17-18 as well as 3:16!

    • October 29, 2010 10:51 am

      Ironically, you look kind of scared in your gravatar pic…

      • October 29, 2010 2:18 pm

        Scott: I am on the lookout for demons–they’re everywhere, you know! Notice, too, that I am hiding behind my Greek NT–surely demons will leave me alone! *I guess I really should get a KJV!*

        • October 29, 2010 2:30 pm

          LOL! 😉

  2. October 29, 2010 10:42 am

    I know one guy, but he’s since become a Buddhist.

  3. Jonathan permalink
    October 29, 2010 10:43 am

    Yes, I know a number of people for whom fear of hell was a significant contributor to their initial steps of faith. I think most if not all were children at the time. None of them continued to focus on that aspect as they matured in faith.

    • October 30, 2010 9:52 am

      I would agree with this comment, insofar as those children have grown up into any kind of meaningful adult faith… Most of those I know who were frightened into faith have given up on the whole thing as they also gave up on the idea of a Santa who kept a list of who’s naughty and nice… But is it in ANY WAY laudable to frighten children with the fires of hell in the hope that they’ll get over that and get a broader picture of a loving and yet holy God?

  4. October 29, 2010 11:17 am

    I was just about to give my heart to Jesus but then I realised that the preacher was right and I had to go with the God who metes out the most terrifying torture to His enemies. Thats why I’m a follower of Quetzalcoatl now. Jesus seemed great but the Aztec deities just frightened me more!

    • October 29, 2010 11:19 am

      I admit though that some nights I lay awake wondering if I made the right choice. Zeus loves to hand out some awfully ironic and creative punishments. Did I make the right choice?

  5. Josh Mueller permalink
    October 29, 2010 11:45 am

    Clark Pinnock said it well:

    “How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness whose ways include inflicting everlasting torture upon his creatures, however sinful they may have been? Surely a God who would do such a thing is more nearly like Satan than like God, at least by any ordinary moral standards, and by the gospel itself.”

  6. October 29, 2010 3:06 pm

    Those three films basically describe my own upbringing in a fundamentalist home. I was so traumatized, I’m genuinely surprised that as an adult I entered the ministry.

    And like Jason, I’m no Joel Osteen, but I have had a number of people leave my churches due to my refusal to preach emotional hellfire and brimstone. (They felt they couldn’t stay on the straight and narrow without being emotionally abused on a weekly basis.)

    As for me, the medieval doctrine of hell as a place of flames and physical torment where demons rule doesn’t survive when analyzed under the cultural context in which it was taught:

    For me, Holding’s analysis of the cultural context by putting Hell in an honor/shame context makes much more sense.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy permalink
      November 4, 2010 8:40 am

      I would like to point out that Estus Pirkle’s films are considered classics of Bad Cinema. His actual filmmaker, a guy named Ron Ormond, is considered “The Ed Wood of Christploitation flicks.”

      P.S. Around a year ago, I sent C Alan Loewen (above) a YouTube link to Estus Pirkle’s companion film to The Burning Hell, The Believer’s Heaven. He still says he’s going to get me for it. It was the Heavenly Singing Midgets… The Singing Midgets were what did it…

  7. A.M.M. permalink
    October 29, 2010 7:21 pm

    “Does anyone know anyone that has become a Christian because they were more scared of hell than attracted to Jesus?”

    Craig Keener, in his commentary on Revelation (NIV Application Commentary) says this:
    “Many people today avoid trying to scare people into the kingdom…but John had no such scruples against scaring people, and as long as we speak the truth and are able to reason with people, there remain occasions when this approach is appropriate. A young atheist chose to consider the claims of Christianity immediately rather than deferring the decision because the doctrine of hell made the stakes to high to ignore. Twenty-four years later that former atheist remains a committed Christian–and is writing this commentary.”

  8. TheTexasGuy permalink
    October 30, 2010 7:37 am

    I just LOVE the deep South accents of everyone – including the Babylonian king and his friend. Apparently everyone who goes to hell is from the Bible Belt. That actually makes me feel a little warm and fuzzy…

  9. November 3, 2010 12:18 am

    i was constantly threatened with lifting of the umbrella of protection. now, i dont believe in the concept of sin. period. it is a waste energy.

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