Here is a promo video for a book that Francis Chan is writing about Hell. I’m looking forward to it. Chan’s books have challenged a few of my preconceived notions in the past, and I think my perspective has grown as a result.
I have never shied away from difficult passages in The Bible. There is something I find intriguing about them. Perhaps this is due to my desire for mystery and the unexplained in the faith. Often, the way some pastors and theologians talk of Christianity, there is little room for mystery and everything must be quantified and categorized. I think, in some quarters, we have turned the faith into a science.
Watching Doctor Who has actually changed my perspective a bit. The basic premise is that a humanoid alien travels through time and space, in part to explore, in part because he is running from his own people. But he is incapable of keeping a low profile. He has to get involved when he sees things that morally outrage him. He has to right the wrongs he encounters. When the show is at its best, you remember that he is an alien whose morality is quite different from ours and that we are not entirely able to comprehend him. Understandably, many writers use this as an opportunity to insert their own morals into the narrative, but every so often, The Doctor will challenge our notions of morality, such as an episode where disembodied aliens wished to use the dead of humanity as new bodies. The Doctor’s human companion was horrified with this idea because it seemed disrespectful. The Doctor pointed out that the dead were dead. They didn’t need the bodies but the aliens did. “It’s a different morality,” he said. “Deal with it or go home.”
This aspect of Doctor Who has helped me to understand God that much more. Or, perhaps more accurately, it has helped me to understand how limited my own reasoning can be. By definition, if God exists, a being who transcends time and space, he would have a perspective different from humanity, which is tiny and finite and bound by flesh and time. I have often seen our existence on this planet as a bubble that floats in a much different reality. Our bubble is time, and everything within that bubble is ruled by entropy, destruction, and a constant awareness of the present and the past with no concept of the future. Outside the bubble, however, is true existence. And God exists outside this bubble. His perspective is greater than ours, and to assume we are able to comprehend a perspective that is not bound by the finiteness that binds us is a great presumption.
So when I read about hell, about destruction and torment, when I read those passages that seem unfair or unreasonable, I am forced to confront my own pride. Am I reacting to a God who is unfair and vicious or am I subjecting God to my perspective, to my reasoning and logic? Is it possible that I am missing information that God has?