I’ve been thinking about the dangerous group I was once a part of and trying to understand how so many innocent Christian people could be tricked into following a predator.
And the truth is, we were pre-disposed to trust him because of the spiritual culture we were raised in.
Growing up, I was taught to make a clear distinction between people of the world and other believers. A Christian was someone who believed in Jesus, prayed, read his Bible, didn’t drink or smoke or sleep around. It was easy to tell when you met a true believer. You could *trust* those people.
But you couldn’t trust unbelievers. They were all depraved and damned and on their way to hell.
And of course, I thought this was all scriptural. Because once I got an idea in my head, I could find it throughout the Bible.
* * *
But everything began to change for me when I read the Chronicles of Narnia. In The Last Battle, a character who had served the evil god Tash his entire life is welcomed by Aslan into the new Narnia. To his own surprise, he realizes that he had really been pursuing Aslan this whole time, although he didn’t know it.
“If any man do a cruelty in my name,” says the Great Lion, “then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted.” And, “Beloved, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”
And it makes me wonder. Because the Bible doesn’t actually have a lot to say about people being saved on the basis of their “profession of faith.”
But it has an awful lot to say about how we treat the poor, showing mercy to others, forgiving our enemies, resisting injustice, standing up for the abused and oppressed.
Jesus says that the ones who do these things are the true sons and daughters of his father.
But in our churches, we don’t evaluate people based on the quality of their love. We evaluate them based on whether they conform to our idea of what a Christian should look like. Do they have all the “correct” beliefs? Do they listen to Christian radio? In short, do they look like us?
And the sad truth is that this way of evaluating people makes the church painfully vulnerable to predators and abusers like Tyler who can so easily adopt the language and rhythms of the Evangelical culture. Anyone who speaks against them becomes an “outsider” and carries a taint of distrust.
We should never allow tribalism to replace our moral judgment. There are *bad* people who profess the name of Jesus and *good* people who don’t. Rather than judging everyone based on the group they belong to, get to know them. There are atheists who are nearer to the kingdom of God than many Christians because what they’ve really rejected is a false Jesus. There are undoubtedly thousands of zealous, radical, “Bible-believing” Christians who are creating a hell for themselves by the god they worship, a proud god, a god who despises learning and beauty and exalts violence and hatred.
On the day we stand at the judgment, there will be some surprises. I suppose where we all end up is measured by what we loved truly, even if we didn’t know its name.
6 thoughts on “How Reading C. S. Lewis Changed My Mind About Hell”
The Great Divorce is another of Lewis’ works that makes cosmic sense of justice and mercy and our own self-made hells.
Amen… I am reading thoughts from a sound mind here. I, too, have loved C.S. Lewis – and George MacDonald – another one with similar theology. I first learned of the love of our Father from these two men! Good thoughts here, Boze – very good!
I’m a bit late to comment here ;), but sometimes I wonder if this – the good atheists, the merciful worshippers of Tash, the grace-filled agnostics like my friends – was what Jesus was talking about when he said “those who are not against us are for us.”
I sometimes wonder that, too.
Great thoughts. “Not everyone who calls me Lord, Lord will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 7:21 I think you are on the right track to look at the quality of people’s love. “(God) looks at the heart.” 1Samuel 16:7
Who is GOD?
Is it Jesus or Our GTF (God Thee Father), who is our Creator…
How many of us really know, when Jesus was made, as one the three Gods? (Trinity) and why? Google and you will find, Nicene Creed, which was first adopted in A.D. 325 at the Council of Nicea, recited in churches world over thereafter…but we forgot the given Ten commandments which is very clear, please engrave these in your heart, as God spoke all these words,
¶ I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.( If at all we come out of any of the bondages, like money, fame, material, love/lust ) Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: Ex. 34.17 · Lev. 19.4 ; 26.1 · Deut. 4.15-18 ; 27.15 (kindly make these words bold, as this is reason for sufferings…) for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Ex. 34.6, 7 · Num. 14.18 · Deut. 7.9, 10
¶ Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: Lev. 19.12 for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
¶ Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Ex. 16.23-30 ; 31.12-14 Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work:but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, Ex. 23.12 ; 31.15 ; 34.21 ; 35.2 · Lev. 23.3 thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Gen. 2.1-3 · Ex. 31.17
¶ Honor thy father and thy mother: Deut. 27.16 · Mt. 15.4 ; 19.19 · Mk. 7.10 ; 10.19 · Lk. 18.20 · Eph. 6.2 that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Eph. 6.3
¶ Thou shalt not kill. Gen. 9.6 · Lev. 24.17 · Mt. 5.21 ; 19.18 · Mk. 10.19 · Lk. 18.20 · Rom. 13.9 · Jas. 2.11
¶ Thou shalt not commit adultery. Lev. 20.10 · Mt. 5.27 ; 19.18 · Mk. 10.19 · Lk. 18.20 · Rom. 13.9 · Jas. 2.11
¶ Thou shalt not steal. Lev. 19.11 · Mt. 19.18 · Mk. 10.19 · Lk. 18.20 · Rom. 13.9
¶ Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Ex. 23.1 · Mt. 19.18 · Mk. 10.19 · Lk. 18.20
¶ Thou shalt not covet Rom. 7.7 ; 13.9 thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s.
We all are only breaking the given commandments, and wages of sin is death!
Are we able to follow all/any of these commandments, even after millennium years, so we are still like Adam and Eve, unable to control our senses, worshiping false Gods, coveting neighbors goods
When will we enter the Kingdom of God? As this life is just a passage in our journey!…