Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Judgmentless Gospel-C. Snyder

    In a popular video from YouTube, a pastor shares a brief message describing his upcoming book.  The pastor, moved by his interpretation of God’s love, seeks to explain that a good God will not send anyone to hell.  The message in this video portrays the judgmentless gospel, as explained by Wax, nearly perfectly.
This version of the judgmentless gospel alters all three aspects of the gospel message as described by Wax.  According to this pastor, the gospel story says that man is inherently good and deserves to go to heaven.  The speaker finds a problem with the way the gospel is presented because he does not believe that a good God would send good people to hell.  The gospel announcement basically exclaims that since God is good and God is love, he will ultimately save everyone from hell after death.  While this is not explicitly expressed, it is the central theme the speaker is conveying.  This gospel with no danger of anyone going to hell raises a major problem with the gospel community, however.  If no one is doomed to go to hell, then why should Christians evangelize?  If a person’s actions in this life do not ultimately affect where they spend eternity, then Christians have no need to place a burden on others.
    This counterfeit is very attractive to most people.  Since no one wants to go to hell, nor does anyone want people they love to go to hell, a gospel message that erases the notion of judgment and hell is attractive.  In addition, if hell is erased, and God’s love wins in the end anyways, people can live their life however they please.  They are then free to live the immoral life they desire with no danger of going to hell.  Knowing that no one is suffering in hell also makes it easier for some people to cope with his or her life on earth. 
The judgmentless gospel is undoubtedly attractive, but it can be countered on many grounds.  Contrary to the thinking of this speaker, judgment should be seen as good news.  Humans should rejoice alongside the psalmist in Psalm 96 that the injustice in the world will one day be punished by almighty God.  Christians should also recognize that if God is truly love, then he must hate sin and punish it.  Wax argues that “a god… who lets evil go unpunished is not worthy of worship” (77).  Another interesting point about judgment is that God’s judgment is personal.  A person will be judged and punished according to his or her deeds while he or she was on earth.  A person fully deserves the punishment he or she will receive because of his or her utter rejection of God and his authority.  Ultimately, however, God will vindicate all good.  The righteous God who created the world and has dominion over it has the authority to control his creation.  He has given humans the right to choose, however, whether or not they will serve him.  When people reject God, they condemn themselves to hell.  God is indeed love, but contrary to what this speaker believes about the nature of God, he does allow those who reject him to endure eternal punishment in hell for their rejection of the eternal God.

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