How do I respond to people who fear that I am going to hell because I don’t believe in hell?
Reply from Bishop Spong –  from Tia 

Dear Tia,
Sometimes hell seems to me to be preferable as a place in which to spend eternity, if the only other option is to spend eternity with people who think like the ones you refer to in your question!

In the first place, the only place where judgment literally resides is in God. Those who presume to play the role of God and speak about another person’s eternal destiny are presuming that they can speak for God and are guilty of the sin of blasphemy.

Second, the Devil is now and always has been a mythological figure, who comes into the Judeo-Christian story very late in history after the exile. It reflects the dualism of Zoroastrianism, which the Jews met when the Persians conquered the Babylonians who were at that time holding the Jews in captivity. When Satan first appears in the scriptures he is an angel and is in the employ of God testing Job on God’s behalf. Only later does he become a fallen angel who rules the world and into whose hands we dare not fall.

Third, the convenient ability to blame an external being for any moral lapse is little more than uninformed piety. It sees God as a punishing parent and seeks to escape the divine wrath by saying, “It was not my fault, God, the devil made me do it.” That is a perfect formula for personal irresponsibility.

This kind of religious talk is pitifully immature and significantly uninformed, not only about God but about life itself.

So, to answer your question, I would ignore people who think you are hell-bound because you do not share their particular mental illness and I would not seek their company.
The last thing I would do is to try to engage these people in conversation. Love them! That is our duty as Christians, but don’t engage them as that is a tactic that is guaranteed to be ineffective.

~John Shelby Spong

#Christianity #hell #faith #progressivechristianity

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