Upon reflection, it was the doctrine of Hell which initially lead me to my Agnostic perspective. Ironic isn’t it? For there are those who would conclude that my Agnostic perspective will ultimately lead me to Hell……
Perhaps they are right.
But I doubt it.
Recently, I was speaking with one of my nearest and dearest friends regarding my “change of beliefs” over the course of the past few years . Like myself, he was raised in the fundamentalist Christian Church known commonly as the Church of Christ. In the course of our conversation, I referenced my peaceful perspective that there is no Hell.
His response intrigued me. He said something along the lines that he never gave Hell much thought. That he focused more on what affects life in the here and the now (I am admittedly paraphrasing to a point). In this regard, my dear friend represents the best of the Christian community. For in terms of practicalities, my dear friend is as much of a humanist as any person with whom I am acquainted.
Which leads me to question my own perspective during those many years of professed and practiced Christianity.
My perspective on the matter of the Bible was cut and dried, clear and to the point. Hell was Hell. God was God. God spoken Creation in 6 days was actually God spoken Creation in 6 days. The miraculous conception of a Virgin was actually a miraculous conception of a Virgin. The Bible was the inerrant, fully inspired Word of God.
There was no doubt in my mind.
And since I was so convinced that the Bible was the actual Word of God, then I was convinced that preparing for life after death was all that mattered. Which ultimately meant that life after death was all that truly mattered. And when assessed and deliberated, that meant that avoiding an existence of eternal torture in Hell was all that truly mattered. At least that was how I assessed life during my days as a Christian.
Now, I do not presume to speak for Christians in general on the matter. Perhaps other Christians view the matter differently. I can only speak for myself. But with all my heart, and in all sincerity, I can truly say that my perspective during my many years as a Christian was based upon a fundamental fear of Hell. And that fear of eternal damnation I extended to my loved ones, for who would not fear such on behalf of family and friends, if one fears such on behalf of self? Quite frankly, that fundamental fear shaped and molded my perspective as a Christian.
Perhaps had I been like my dear friend who professes and practices Christianity without focusing on the alleged life hereafter, I too would still be “in the church”.
For whatever reason, my fundamentalist thinking as a Christian would not allow me to advance beyond “either/or” reasoning.
Thus, it seems to me that either the Bible is the fully inspired Word of God, or it is merely the product of the human mind.
In other words, myths and legends relative to one particular peoples’ early history.
That history likewise recorded from a biased perspective; as are most autobiographies.
It further seems to me that either there is a personal God who dwells in another realm, or there is no other realm at all.
And hence no Heaven.
And hence no Hell.
Could I be wrong? I suppose.
Does it matter? I doubt it.
For quite frankly, I doubt many things.
Except what my dear friend, the Christian with the humanistic perspective observed:
The here and the now is all that matters.