I think if the devil doesn't exist, but man has created him, he has created him in his own image and likeness.
- - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Pt. II., Bk. V: Pro and Contra, Ch. 4: RebellionIn a story called, "Is There A Place Called Hell," Channel 2's Faith and Ethics reporter, Jamie Tucker, once again presented what seemed to me to be an evangelically biased and unjournalistic view of religion. I'll grant this to Tucker: at least he did supplement the story with interview material from one Jewish leader and one Muslim leader. However, he also employed them in the fashion of some conservative evangelical sermons I have heard. They tend to go something like this:
Atheists don't believe in hell. Religions outside of Christianity don't believe that hell lasts forever. Christians believe that there is an everlasting hell and that the only people who are saved from it are those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ [insert very selective and finessed scripture references]. There is a clear choice here. Which one are you willing to stake your life on?Tucker's report as you can see for yourself ended as a variation on this logic, with the invitation to salvation and requisite hymn-singing merely implied rather than supplied at the end.
The problem is that there are as many different beliefs about hell or the lack of hell among Christians as there are among people of other faiths and no faiths. A number of Catholics believe in purgatory. Are they not Christian? C.S. Lewis, an Anglican and evangelical favorite, believed that hell is a place we keep ourselves confined to. Was he not Christian? Some Christians reject the idea of hell and can point to the fact that hell is mentioned very little in scripture or point out that there are parables that show that God never gives up on people. Are they not Christian? Once again, Tucker's presentation of religion is inherently flawed because it is offered from the narrowest of perspectives. He clearly favors that narrow perspective.
A much more important story on Channel 2 for figuring out where in the hell is hell was the one that followed Tucker's piece. "Woman Celebrates Mother's Day With Sick Daughter" was poignant and gut-wrenching (warning to those who choose to view it: it might rip your heart out). You want to know if there is a place called hell? I'd say that it's in the life of any innocent child ravaged by diseases like Arthrogryposis and lung disease.
Can you understand why a little creature, who can't even understand what's done to her, should ... weep her meek unresentful tears to dear, kind God to protect her? .... Do you understand why this infamy must be and is permitted? Without it, I am told, man could not have existed on earth, for he could not have known good and evil. Why should he know that diabolical good and evil when it costs so much? Why, the whole world of knowledge is not worth that child's prayer to dear, kind God'! I say nothing of the sufferings of grown-up people, they have eaten the apple, damn them, and the devil take them all! But these little ones!
- - Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Pt. II., Bk. V: Pro and Contra, Ch. 4: RebellionI'd say that Jamie Tucker needs to look at the suffering in the second story and consider this possibility, no less Christian: if there is a hell then it is here on earth with the suffering of these little ones and we are all in it with them, whether we choose to be or not.