(Ab)Use of the Doctrine of Hell

As I was reading Rob Bell‘s Love Wins last night, a memory surfaced…one that I had not thought of in, well, a long time.  It goes all the way back to my high school days.

I must have been 15-16 years old at the time.  Anyways, I grew up in an American Baptist household.  At the time, I was kind of seeing this girl who was, to put it bluntly, a Christian fundamentalist.  So I was invited to her church, a good old independent Baptist church…more on them in a minute.  On the more positive side, it was here that I was first introduced to Christ’s descent into hell.  But, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies.  I can remember sitting in the worship service when the altar call was given.

A friend of this girl that I was seeing leaned over to me and said something to the effect of, “If you were to die right now, where would you go?”

I whispered back, “Umm…heaven.”

He looked at me and said, “Are you sure you’re not going to hell?  You’re soul is in danger!”

What was I to do?  I felt that all eyes were on me.  So I did what any embarrassed teen did…caved in and went forward.

If I knew then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have gone forward; I probably would have told them to piss off.  Actually I probably wouldn’t have even been interested in the girl.  See, Trinity Baptist Church is a “independent, fundamental, Bible-believing, KJV 1611 Bible-preaching church that welcomes everyone.”  I have serious doubts that they would welcome everyone and I’m not too fond of the KJV-Only crowd.

But, needless to say, about 20 years ago, hell was used by means of fear to get me to go forward in an altar call.  I’m really glad I got out of that mentality.


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