If Hell wasn't a punishment for disbelief, would you still be Christian?


#1

I have seen this question posed in the past from non-believers and I was wondering if some would share their genuine HONEST feelings on this. If Hell was not a punishment for disbelieving that Jesus truly is the Christ and died for our sins, would you be a Christian today?

I know I am just dealing in hypotheticals here but it is an interesting quandry to examine (at least it is for me). If you go to other boards (not just here on CAF), it seems Hell is mentioned a LOT MORE than Heaven. I know it’s not as prevalent on here as elsewhere (look at CARM for instance) though and I commend the members for that.

If you take Hell out of the equation though, why else would you choose to be Christian when we are constantly harrased, ridiculed, and made fun of mainly through the mainstream media. I would love to hear some diverse reasons why you would remain faithful if the punishment of Hell was taken off the table. God bless you all.

Curtis


#2

My being Christian has nothing to do with a fear of hell…and I do not believe, and the Church doesn’t hold, that people who honestly don’t believe go to hell. They’ll be judged on whether or not they have acted with charity to others. Read Chapter 25, verses 31-46 of Matthew to confirm that God, Son of God, clearly reveals this truth. He should know and surely none of us is prepared to argue the point with Jesus!

If you don’t have the gift of faith, you are condemned? absolutely not!
If you do have the gift of faith, or the grace to seek faith, but don’t respond with love of God and others and obedience to the gospel, then you are in need of repentance and put yourself in spiritual jeopardy.

No, I’m not a Christian because of Hell. I don’t tend to think of it. If fear is our motivation we’re in trouble! Surely love is our motivation for being Christian :slight_smile: I pray for souls every day, and for the salvation of the dying even in their last moments…as don’t we all?

Warm regards, Trishie


#3

There is only one good reason for believing in something: because I believe it is true. How else could I honestly believe if I didn’t think it was true? And if I thought (as I do) that Catholicism is true, how could I deny it?

It has nothing to do with whether or not there is something in it for me. It has to do with truth.

That is how someone can end up in hell - when they see the truth and then reject it.
Rob


#4

I would still be Christian. When I came to believe, my mind became clearer, I gained power over problems and habits, and I became capable of a level of empathy I had never thought possible.
When I was baptized, later, the same effects happened again, taking me another step closer to God and clarity of mind.
My Confirmation (and First Communion) had even more of the smae effect on me, reinforcing my sense that I was and am on the right path. The miracles I’ve experienced are a way of life – I would certainly be dead by now if God hadn’t carried me far from where I keep stumbling on my own.
The life I led long ago wasn’t a life at all. It was a dragging of the heels through a long bleak tunnel of dull pain, with confusion raging in my head, and I am so glad it’s over sometimes I find myself helplessly weeping with gratitude and relief.


#5

Yes. I believed that and remained a (Protestant) Christian.

Generaly, I thought that even though the spiritual promises of Christianity were false it still had real world benefits. Marriage and family was obviously superior to debauchery. Honesty, loyalty and integrity were obviously superior to cowardice and cruelty. I didn’t hold fast to **all **Christian values since some of them seemed impractical. But for the most part, I lived as a Christian and was better off for it. Popular? Not so much, but definitely better off.

For a couple of years, I shopped around for a replacement for Christianity. Something with fewer miracles, something more practical. But then I got a miracle of my very own and had to make a 180 degree change – suddenly I was shopping for the Church that believed in God speaking, miracles happening and the Holy Spirit guiding her!

But, if not for all that I would have gone to my grave generaly satisfied with Christianity while neither believing in heaven nor hell.


#6

I would still be Christian. The fear of Hell has/had little to do with me following Christ. The love I felt once I finally decided to follow Him is what makes me His forever more.


#7

In a word, yes.
All other things being equal, it is still a choice between life and death. God offers eternal existance to those who believe in and follow Him. Those who do not choose to follow Him will cease to exist - Death. From a purely selfish standpoint, why would someone sure anihilation over the promise of continued blissful existance?

When one truely and freely Chooses to Follow Christ, it is not because failure will result in punishment in some future life, but rather because failure to do so IS punishment in this life. When we live in Christ with our full heart and mind, we have no worries, no problems that we can’t handle with Him.
Plus, when one accepts Christ and His teachings, one sees how wonderfully simple and full and kind the world could be if everyone believed this way. it is an ideal worth holding up and emulating.

Yes I would still be a Christian.
If the only reason I professed is to avoid Punishmnet I suspect I would find myself in a tough situation come Judgement Day.

Peace
James


#8

Interesting OP question.

Would there still be a heaven, i.e. when one died they would either go to heaven or just remain dead, or would everyone just be dead?


#9

I’m sure the question relates to the idea of we’re only Christian’s because we ar afraid of punishment. Thus, everything remains the same except the concept of Eternal Punishment in Hell. Heaven remains etc.

Peace
James


#10

I know you are asking something hypothetical but your question is a contradiction in terms. A person cannot be a Christian and not believe in Hell. That Hell exists is a Church teaching and Christ told us it exists. Therefore Christians must believe in Hell.


#11

What the Church teaches is that Hell exists. If a Catholic rejects such a teaching then that would be heresy and if they did not repent before death then they would indeed go to Hell.
Second, you are not judged on what you have done during your lifetime. Good works have no merit if you die in a state of mortal sin. You are judged on the state of your soul at death.


#12

The question shows clearly a lack of understanding of the nature of Hell. Hell is the state of rejection of Christ. That’s what Hell is. For there to be no possibility of going to Hell, there would have to be no possibility of rejecting Christ, because Hell is rejection of Christ. So of course I’d still be a Christian if there was no Hell :p. Everyone would.

I think the real question is: Is your relationship with God based on fear?

My answer to that is definitely NO.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”

I am not afraid of God- certainly no more afraid than I am of the police. They exist to protect me, not to hurt me. I very much appreciate what they do for me. I am afraid for people that unrepentantly and persistently defy God, and I’m also afraid for people that break the laws of the land. They have reason to be afraid.


#13

YES!!!

Though, I think a more interesting way of asking this would be:

(Again, hypothetical)

If Christianity were indeed false, the historicity of Christ, the existence of Heaven AND Hell were false…

Would you still practice Christianity?

Me asking that has me confused now though. I guess that would mean prayer would not be real and one would not be able to come to faith because God would not be communicating. I confused myself.

To sum it up…the moral backbone of Christianity…expressly through the Catholic Church…is what is right and good for humanity. So, if after we die there were no Heaven and no Hell I would still practice the faith (though could you call it faith then?) because it would be leaving a better world behind for everyone.


#14

I will give a purely natural answer. Following Christ has done nothing but good for me. It has made me happier and provides the framework for my entire life. It would require a large crowbar to motivate me to change from all that. One particular doctrine, be it about the communion of saints, Hell, Mary, whatever, is not what is motivating me to be what I am. I am what I am first, and then I believe what has been revealed, and I believe it on account of my trusting what God tells us. If the content of what he revealed were slightly different, so what? (I’m assuming you aren’t talking about God changing his mind and altering the “truth” midstream.)

I am bothered somewhat by any implications you may be making about free will, but I’m assuming you are really only talking about punishment or one conception of justice or something, and not trying to alter the nature of man or anything like that.

Concerning harassment, this is a cause for rejoicing if you are into scripture quotes. Not that it is easy to keep that in mind!

1 Peter 4: 12Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly. 14 If you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.


#15

Of course. I’d still owe the Trinity so much and I am grateful for all that God has done in my life. No, you just simply couldn’t keep me away from God.


#16

Perhaps the greatest example of irony? :smiley:


#17

:thumbsup:


#18

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