Last year Brian McLaren shared his views about hell in a series of three posts on Out or Ur. This year we welcome a new voice on the subject. Shane Claiborne is a founding member of The Simple Way, a new monastic community in Philadelphia, and the author of The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. In part one of his post, Shane discusses his childhood memories of preachers "scaring the hell out of him," and reflects on a more Christlike alternative.
I figure anytime you are about to talk about hell it's good to start with a joke, so here we go?.It was a busy day in heaven as folks waited in line at the pearly gates. Peter stood as gatekeeper checking each newcomer's name in the Lamb's Book of Life. But there was some confusion, as the numbers were not adding up. Heaven was a little overcrowded, and a bunch of folks were unaccounted for. So some of the angels were sent on a mission to investigate things. And it was not long before two of them returned, "We found the problem," they said. "Jesus is out back, lifting people up over the gate."
I remember as a child hearing all the hellfire and damnation sermons. We had a theater group perform a play called, "Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames" where actors presented scenes of folks being ripped away from loved ones only to be sent to the fiery pits of hell where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, and we all went forward to repent of all the evil things we had done over our first decade of life, in paralyzing fear of being "left behind"? the preacher literally scared the "hell" out of us.
But have you ever noticed that Jesus didn't spend much time on hell.
In fact there are really only a couple of times he speaks of weeping and gnashing of teeth, of hell and ...