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One of the major impediments to many people's acceptance of conservative Christianity these days is the doctrine of hell. It seems the thought that people, of which include our sweet beloved friends and family, are born condemned to burn in hell unless they accept Jesus is a hard pill to swallow.

Some find the concept of saving themselves and leaving their people behind so morally reprehensible they'd rather face condemnation with the rest of humanity than follow Christ often out of a sense of guilt. Other than abandoning the doctrine of eternal torment completely, what are some of the best ways to help others emotionally deal with this hellish doctrine?

Scriptural support is more than welcome.

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    There will be multiple viewpoints on this question. Which denomination/group/persuasion did you require answers from ? What do you define as 'conservative' in relation to Christian doctrine ? What documented evidence (apart from your own personal response) do you have that the doctrine of eternal damnation of unbelievers is a 'major impediment' ? What scriptural grounds do you have for calling it a 'hellish doctrine' ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 7:02
  • Hi @NigelJ, I thought it was clear. Conservative Christians who hold to the doctrine of eternal torment in hell.
    – Austin
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 7:07
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    And where would I find such 'conservative Christians' ? How do they identify themselves ?
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 7:09
  • @NigelJ, the doctrine of eternal torment in hell is a traditional doctrine spanning many Christian denominations. I'm open to hearing from all who hold such a view. I refer to it as a hellish doctrine because the doctrine is about hell.
    – Austin
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 7:12
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    Would not the best course for persons troubled about eternal damnation be for them to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thus be saved . . . . . from eternal damnation ? If they are not troubled about it, then they have no need to worry.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Aug 26, 2021 at 7:12

2 Answers 2

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There are no ways to help a Christian or a prospective believer cope with such "emotional torment", or survivals guilt. They have to first understand the mission at hand, then any level of emotional pandering or genteelisms will not be needed. Let's use some paraphrased, scriptural logic train.

Who is my mother and who are my brothers? whoever does the will of my father in heaven, Mathew 12:46-50 - Contrary to kinship, affiliations are governed by interest, vision. if heaven is the focus, subconsciously, it will reflect with your choice of community, in only these unions should you dedicate your body, mind, soul for they align with your heavenly will. Jesus "dined with Pharisees, tax collectors and prostitutes" to influence, not to entertain or be entertained. That is to say, if the kingdom of God is like a burning fire inside you, and it's just not a belief you find intellectual comfort in, you would subconsciously dwell on the gospel with them till said friend or family starts aligning themselves to the will of God, or they start finding you irritable and naturally separate themselves from you.

"He came to divide, to bring sons against fathers, daughters against mothers" - Luke 12:53. For God frowns on any relationship that doesn't serve the purpose he has for you.

See the parable of the great banquet regarding the cost of discipleship - Luke 14.."If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple"

With all aforementioned, anyone who is to take up his cross and follow Christ must first understand the intra- and interpersonal sacrifices it entails. It has little to do with having intellectual comfort in the Jesus story and verbal professions.

Is it not in the same bible he states: "Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven" - Matthew 7:21.

In light of the verse above, let's address your statement regarding the thought of people you love being condemned and burning in hell - Again, the instance you hold unto a notion that someone you know or close to you is going to hell is the moment you inadvertently abandon your sole duty as a Christian on earth - which is to "work with faith". There are several applications of that phrase but in this context, preach endlessly with faith. For without faith, you are just regurgitating scriptures.

Also bear in mind, God asserted: "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, compassion of those I have compassion." - Romans 9:15

The moment you hold the thought of superiority over another towards salvation, for you believe and they don't, repeat unto yourself, "The first shall be last and the last first" - Matthew 20:16 for the Lord God does as he pleases.

Hence, Christians should endeavor to rid themselves of linear measures of judgment regarding salvation for "our thoughts are not his thoughts, nor our ways his ways"

To sum, your friends and family are people, who if you deem are not in Christ or they so do profess, you should relentlessly work towards leading them towards the path you're walking with faith. And all who choose to follow Christ must first understand, internalize and apply the statement: he came to bring division not peace, in appropriate areas of their lives.

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People may not admit it, but they all know, deep down, that if God was to deal with them purely on the basis of divine justice and holiness, they would be damned. Without God's mercy / grace, we can only expect judgment. Evil people and unbelievers will receive God's justice. Believers who repent of evil will receive God's mercy. This is based on the principle in James 2:13 – “… judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment." God chose to show mercy through Christ bearing in his body the judgment of God for sin, so that we could be spared that righteous judgment.

As W H Auden (1907-1973 British poet) said:

"All sin tends to be addictive, and the terminal point of addiction is what is called damnation."

I have not mentioned the word 'hell' until now, but that is what is being referenced. Your question takes it as understood that hell (in the Bible) is a form of God's punishment of the wicked. Here is what Ray Comfort said about hell and those disbelieving its reality in his 'Hell's Best Kept Secret' teaching. He spoke of people who say things like "I don't believe that a loving God would send me to hell. My God is a God of love, not wrath and judgment." Ray says:

"If they ever tell you that, say, 'You're right. Your god would never send you to Hell because he can't. He doesn't exist. He's a figment of your imagination. You created a god in your mind in your own image. That's called idolatry, it's the oldest sin in the book, and all idolators are condemned to Hell.'".

Likewise, John Metcalfe said re. Revelation 14:10, “He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone… the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever…” :

"‘Tormented’ At its strongest, this word means ‘tortured’. With what torture? ‘Fire and brimstone.’ ‘Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup’, Psalm 11:6. Thus it fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah, a sign of the wrath to come. But in the wrath to come it falls out of eternity, unto everlasting, ‘the vengeance of eternal fire’, Jude 7. Oh, says one, This is too terrible; too severe. I answer, Then heed the first angel, and obey him, if you would avoid its severity. Oh, no, comes the reply, But I could never worship such a God as this. But I answer and say, Then who or what do you worship? Oh, you cry, But my Jesus, and my Spirit, are nothing like this! Then what Jesus is this? What spirit is this? It is ‘another Jesus’ and ‘another spirit’, just as you hold ‘another gospel’ than that preached by the apostles at the beginning, II Corinthians 11:4. The Jesus of John and the apostles gives you the lie, saying, ‘I Jesus have sent mine angel unto the churches’, and again, John’s Jesus ‘sent his angel to signify these things’, namely the things in Revelation 14:10,11. [The Revelation of Jesus Christ, P393]

A glorious point of surviving God's righteous judgment, is that that grace is given because God has removed all guilt! Every person who 'survives' the Day of Resurrection and Judgment so as to enjoy heaven, will be a living testimony to God's righteous judgment. All those who survive that day so as to suffer the wrath of God, will be a living testimony to God's righteous judgment. This means that those who grasp, appreciate and applaud God's righteous judgment will feel no guilt at the fact of the many sentenced to eternal torment. They will agree with the verdict and praise God forever that he freely spared them that, though they, too, deserved it, until that day when they confessed their sin and bent their knees at the name of Jesus, in faith.

A major impediment to many people's acceptance of 'conservative' Christianity these days is not the doctrine of hell, but their own unbiblical opinions which cause them to proudly think their idea of justice is better than God's, due to having no hatred for the sin that brings the wrath of God on the unrepentant.

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