Summary: What do we say about Hell?
Evangelism # 3
The Doctrine Nobody Likes
It is likely that as many as one third of you who hear this sermon today will not believe the content!
∙ A few years ago, US News and World Report surveyed Americans and discovered that
78% believed in Heaven and believed they were going there, while 60% believed in Hell,
but only 4% believed they were going there.
∙ Another survey of self-identified Christians found that
35% of Baptists;
54% of Presbyterians,
58% of Methodists, and
60% of Episcopalians do not believe in a literal place called hell!
It’s fairly clear that Hell is a subject so disturbing that it leads many people to try to redefine Bible doctrine. Several major heretical systems that grew out of Christianity in the last 150 years or so, reject or redefine Hell.
∙ Christian Science, founded by spiritist Mary Baker Eddy, teaches that there is no death. They believe that heaven and hell are states of thought, not places. People experience their own heaven or hell right here on earth.
∙ New Age cult leader Sun Myung Moon of The Unification Church believes that God will not desert any person eternally. By some means...they will be restored.
∙ Mormons argue that “the false doctrine that the punishment to be visited upon erring souls is endless... is but a dogma; at once unscriptural, unreasonable, and revolting.”
∙ Jehovahs Witnesses, maintain that the wicked are forever annihilated because the teaching about a fiery hell can rightly be designated as a teaching of demons.
Bertrand Russell, an eloquent atheist, said that anyone who preaches Hell is inhumane including Jesus Christ.
Robert Ingersoll who devoted himself to opposing Christianity in the late 1800’s said,
“The idea of hell was born of revenge and brutality on one side, and cowardice on the other. . . I have no respect for any human being who believes in it ... I dislike the doctrine, I hate it, I despise it, I defy this doctrine . . . this doctrine is infamous beyond all power to express.”
Ted Turner, founder of Turner Broadcasting (TBS, TNT, CNN) blasted the Christian faith at a speech to the National Press Club. "Remember, heaven is going to be perfect. And I don’t really want to be there... Those of us that go to hell, which will be most of us in this room, most journalists are certainly going there... (Laughter) but, when we get there we’ll have a chance to make things better because hell is supposed to be a mess. And heaven is perfect. Who want to go to a place that is perfect? Boring, boring." (Laughter)
Apparently I don’t much like the subject, either. In preparation for today, I found that in my library, which is fairly extensive, I do not have a single book devoted exclusively to the subject of eternal judgement and/or hell! I have about 15 years worth of sermons saved in my computer. I could only find one about Hell. There were others that mentioned the subject, but only ONE that only explored the subject by itself.
So... the next 20 or so minutes will be uncomfortable for most of us. We’ll be talking about something we would like to avoid, a subject that the majority of educated Americans reject as truthful – the existence of HELL.