Silly Questions

May is not an easy month for me. It was in May 2003 that my mother passed away.  Recalling memories of her has become a May ritual for me. One childhood memory that has surfaced this year was a time when my mother, in a fit of frustration, demanded that I stop asking such silly questions.

The other day USA Today ran a story asking if Osama bin Laden was in Hell.  The article goes on to speculate that this question has become a type of litmus test between traditional heaven-and-hell evangelicals and the emerging evangelical movement led by Rob Bell with its tendencies towards universalism.  The traditional argument in its simplest form goes something like this: if God is just, then it is not possible for bin Laden to end up in heaven.

I cannot help but wonder if this debate is a silly one.  After all, trying to figure out where someone else is going to spend eternity is a little like asking if Adam and Eve had belly buttons – a potentially  entertaining discussion but also a little silly.

Why is it so important to condemn someone else to hell?  There is a strange comfort in knowing there are people more sinful than I am.  It is reasonably safe to state that I am not, nor ever will be as sinful as Osama bin Laden was.

Is it possible that condemning someone else to hell is a convenient way to avoid dealing with the stuff in my life?  After all I have never master-minded a terrorist attack or sent someone on a suicide mission – so I can’t be all that bad of a person, right?

In light of what bin Laden has done my judgmentalism, anger and arrogance are just minor offenses that should be overlooked.



Filed under 9-11, Christian, confessions of faith, distinctives, emergent, Love Wins, religion, Rob Bell, war

2 responses to “Silly Questions

  1. Jeff Neuman-Lee

    Just to follow along on your idea, Glenn.

    Jesus said not to judge. The most obvious understanding of “judge” in his context is to determine whether or not someone goes to hell. The very decision that someone must be in hell is a terrible mistake. It places the decider into a god-like, idolatrous relationship with God.

    God the Father of Jesus Christ is the who loves his enemies and calls his followers to do the same. How can I love someone and have them in hell? God reaches out to the lost, crosses the barrier and does not erect the barrier.

    What’s the proper answer? “I dunno. That’s up to God, not me.”

  2. I think we waste time wondering who should be or not be punished. It is not for us to decide altho’ God has created us with a sense of curiosity and a tendency to judge. It makes us feel better when we can say we aren’t as bad as _______ but doesn’t mean that we are excused from some of the trite things we do that God will most likely judge when our time on earth comes to an end.

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