So I followed a link yesterday, that took me to an evangelical Christian site. The title of this post is taken from that site. Sometimes I enjoy reading things like that, it gives me stuff to think about, and this website delivered. There was a page about witnessing to Mormons which encouraged missionaries to learn the Mormon vernacular. at one point the author suggested telling Mormons that they are going to "outer darkness" because that is the closest approximation to Hell that we have. It went on to say that most Mormons will find that idea disconcerting because they believe that nearly everyone will live in one of Heaven's three kingdoms. More specifically, we believe that the only people in Outer Darkness will be people that have knowingly chosen it, and that what makes it miserable is the misery the people there make for themselves.
The author was right, I did find the idea of me going to Hell disconcerting, but for reasons they probably didn't expect. Consider this: Hell is a place where people who have committed even the smallest of sins are sent, by God, even if they didn't know that what they were doing is a sin. Furthermore God, the being responsible for bringing these people into existence, created the world and mankind so that by our very natures every single one of us cannot help but sin and will be sent to Hell unless we have the rare benefit of learning about Christ during our mortal lives. The earthly practice that most closely approximates willfully creating beings that are doomed to suffer? Having babies just to torture them to death.
My worldview allows for a God that is just, and will not tolerate sin, but one that is also merciful and isn't bound to send more than half of His children to eternal suffering.
Let's consider eternal suffering for a moment. Try this, draw a line on a piece of paper. Now, I hate to break it to you, but the line you drew isn't a real line. It's a limited approximation of a line, or a "line segment." A real line goes on for forever. Think about that for a moment. Not just to the edge of the paper, not just beyond the desk. A real line goes on beyond your house, your backyard, city, state, country planet, solar system and beyond. It goes on for forever. Now draw another pathetic attempt at representing a line parallel to the first one. Now I ask, how much area is between your two pathetic lines? A few square centimeters, right? Imagine, if you will, the two real lines, the ones that go on for forever, and ask how much area is between those two lines? The amount of area between those to lines is infinite. What if the lines started on left, but still went on forever to the right? The area between them is still infinite.
Alright, Lets say that the distance between the two lines is the limited, finite you. The left end points are the moment you came into existence. Let's now say that the area between the lines are representative of your suffering were you to be sent to Hell for eternity. "Wait a minute!" you say, "doesn't that means that my suffering would be infinite?" Let's say then that the sin you committed that got you sent to Hell was that you were born and your parents failed to baptise you before you died shortly after birth. Or even that your sin was stealing money from orphans.
"But," you say (and I do wish you would stop interrupting) "God *is* merciful. Christ suffered for our sins, and all we have to do is claim Him as our Savior, and we'll be saved." What of the millions of people who lived without ever hearing of Christ? They did not willfully reject Him. They had no chance to save themselves. Did God keep that chance from them on purpose?
Do these finite temporal sins and failings *really* require eternal, infinite suffering to satisfy justice? Does the fact that you believe in a God who is cruel and heartless concern you? It should.