During my four part series on hell, eternal punishment has taken quite a beating from myself and the other bloggers who visit here (yes, pun intended). So now it's time to reflect. Is there any type of hell that you wouldn't object to? Or even a hell you would like to see remain in the picture? It certainly has staying power. And many continue to hold on tightly. Maybe there are good reasons. Especially if entrance into hell has to do with works, it can give us a sense of ultimate justice in this world. And I for one do long for justice when I see some of the horrific ways human beings treat each other. So maybe there's actually a place in my mind for some sort of works based judgement system that extends punishment commensurate with the crime. However, this does make me nervous when I reflect on my own imperfections. It's so hard to construct a system of punishment I'd actually want to apply to myself.
I think hell has been used to corral and control the masses to greater and lesser extents by the church. The ultimate behavior modification system. We may use the threat of hell on ourselves, worrying we need such external controls to keep ourselves in line. Perhaps at times it does make a difference?
And what if Christianity dropped hell from its doctrine? Would Christianity suffer in any way? Why does Christianity hold on so tightly to hell? When I began to question hell, I also had to question the need for a savior. If Jesus' death doesn't save us from hell, then what is it's purpose? Does Jesus' importance or value diminish if there is no eternal torment from which to save us? Does Christianity actually turn on the gates of hell?