Recently, author and Pastor Rob Bell came under fire for his recent work, "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived," which is, as of Thursday, No. 2 on The New York Times Bestsellers list. Bell announced in several interviews that there is no hell. Many of the pastors critics failed to read his book. Some of them blame Bell for what they deem as a ‘distortion of the Bible.’ They believe Bell had watered down the biblical consequences of judgment day, God’s wrath and, of course, the concept of hell. Fittingly in time for Easter Sunday, considered the holiest day for Christians, the Bell book controversy poses an interesting question: is there a hell? I say yes, there is.
Many who are familiar with my political ideology may think my belief in hell is due to being a conservative, but they are wrong. I was raised a Catholic with the belief that if I did anything remotely considered a sin, I would burn in hell. I was raised on guilt, my Italian background and the fear of hell. It wasn’t until I became an adult that my beliefs changed. I still consider myself a Christian, however, I don’t believe in organized religion. I tried a few different denominations including born-again Christian, Mormon and Catholicism. In my soul-searching quest, I found that each denomination had rules that just didn’t seem logical to me. What I did find, however, is that all religions and cultures had a few basic beliefs in common, a form of dualism such as an afterlife in which the physical body decays while the life force, the soul, separates and moves on. In order to believe in hell one would need to believe that when they die, their soul advances on to another place, dimension or plane of existence, and depending on your belief system, it could be heaven, the Summerlands, or other such places, or, if you were bad, it might be a less desirable place such as purgatory, limbo or the ever popular hell. The concept of duality can be seen in the Yin and the Yang, good and evil, life and death or as previously mentioned, heaven and hell. As you get up in age and your loved ones are in the later stages of life, the concept of an all-forgiving God is comforting when you are faced with their death. The thought of them moving on to a better place can help ease the pain, and knowing that you will be reunited when it is your turn to move on is a powerful incentive to be a better person.
Let’s face it, no one knows for sure what happens when a person dies. It can be theorized and reinforced by religions and cultures. It can be played out in television shows such as the "Ghost Whisperer", or on the silver screen, such as "Ghost."
With the uprisings in the Middle East, the earthquakes and Tsunamis in the east and the unrest in our own country, one has to wonder: are we facing the "End?" In the movie, "The Seventh Sign", one of the main characters is a Jewish student who asks a Catholic Priest whether or not is the Apocalypse is occurring, and points out various signs. The priest responds, "Jesus said the end would come like a thief in the night. That belief is fundamental to every religion. Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu. There are differences amongst them as to how it will actually happen …but we all believe in a Messiah who delivers God`s wrath…upon the world… That when the end comes, with it comes eternal life…for those of us who are saved" The student then asks, "Well, who`ll be saved, Reverend? The Jew doesn`t think it will be the Muslim. The Muslim does not think it will be the Christian. The Christian doesn`t think it will be the Buddhist. What if nobody is saved? What if we`re all wrong?" It makes you think, doesn’t it?