I often wonder when the proponents of the doctrine of eternal punishment generally introduce their children to this belief. Would they do that with pre-schoolers as part of their Sunday school or Bible class curriculum? Would they wait until the kids were a little more mature, perhaps in junior high school? If they don’t teach this aspect of God to little children as a part of their formal religious training, why not? At what age does it become appropriate to tell the people about God’s eternal wrath? When should these little minds be introduced to the concept of fearing God?
I have never polled evangelical, fundamentalists on this subject; but, in my admittedly limited personal experience, I have never seen the subject of Hell introduced in a pre-school Sunday school class for instance. I believe such teaching would be dimly viewed by many who claim to adhere to this particular aspect of orthodoxy. The idea of instilling such a fearful idea in such little minds would likely repulse the average professed believer in eternal punishment. It may seem okay or necessary to scare the life out of teenagers and adults with this concept of God, but not our little innocents. They have time enough to learn the awful truth about the God we have previously presented to them as only loving, kind, and protective.
Why, oh why, would we shield our children from this horrendous depiction of God, but then demand that older people accept it as “Gospel”? Any reluctance to portray our picture of God to any age group is an indictment of our theology, and we should recognize it as such. If the news is too much for a four year old, it is too much for a forty year old too. If a child’s mind recoils from the God of eternal damnation, then it does not measure up to the standard which Jesus Himself proclaimed: “For of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt ).