Posted by: minnow | February 24, 2008

(Among Others) Why Is Hell Such a Hot Topic?

As we explore the various topics that seem to create tension between emergers and evangelicals we need to understand what contributes to the stress between these two points of view.  Obviously a certain amount of tension is created simply by there being a difference of opinion.  We like harmony.  Yet, a desire for peace does not quite address the whole tension issue.  Otherwise it would be a lot easier to simply agree to disagree.  You think red means anger.  I think it means passion.  Anger, passion–not that far apart.  We agree to disagree.

We also like too be right.  If I share my opinion with you and you do not readily agree with me my first response is to think I must not have been understood.  I share my opinion again only this time I back it up with other people’s opinions, or maybe a little scripture.  If you still do not see it my way I may start thinking, “This guy is obtuse.”  And, while I might not jump to that conclusion immediately I am much more likely to see the problem as yours than as mine, especially when the subject we are debating is as serious as our faith. 

Why?  Why is it that when we discuss our faith with other people we become so passionate about our opinions?  I believe it is because faith is so deeply rooted in who we are that we feel as though we are defending our very being.  To a certain extent this is as it should be–the core of who we are as a created being longs for intimacy with our Creator and so that which connects us to the Creator–our faith–must be protected, defended and preserved.  The problem is that in our limited wisdom we sometimes confuse what we believe about our Creator with our belief in a Creator.  When the tenets of our faith that we have turned into the core values of who we are are challenged we feel under personal attack.  We are no longer discussing ideas and understandings that can be fleshed out by differing points of view we are passing judgement on who we are, or more to the point, on who the other guy is.  Now when you do not agree with me you cannot possible be a person of faith the way I am.

The topic of hell is hot because it is often one of those faith breaking issues.

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