In a conversation about the Bible, I had a family member state that he never asked any questions or worried about implications. I felt that to be rather strange; but then, as I think back on my own religious experience, I admit to not asking many questions at an earlier time. I had questions, but I just suppressed them and certainly never openly shared them with anyone. Such frankness and openness was not welcomed by the church, and I sensed that fact, instinctively.
As I stand here now, I marvel at how I could hear the preacher suggest that 90% or more of all humanity would end up in fiery eternal torment, sent there by God. How could I or anyone accept that as a fact without raising a single question or cry of unbelief? One thing I now know for sure is that the faith I claimed at that time was not a personal faith by any stretch. It was strictly an inherited faith, a faith maintained by the power of tradition, having no other appeal whatsoever. What else about this story could possibly leave anyone resigned to and unmoved by such an atrocity? In retrospect, I am appalled by my mental lethargy and weak acquiescence.
Of course, a preacher I heard not long ago, put the church's strident insistence on a fiery eternal Hell in perfect perspective. He said quite frankly that, without that Hell, the church is out of business. If they don't have souls to rescue from God's wrath, they have no mission and reason for existence. What an admission that is in reality, even though it is undoubtedly true of many churches. They recognize no need to teach the ethical standards of Jesus, to encourage the actual spiritual development and well-being of their members, or to be a source of aid and comfort to others. They only admit to the demands of the so called Great Commission which supposedly is all about the hereafter, not here and now.
No wonder so many young people, who demand a religion with relevance to their daily lives, largely reject this story. How does rescuing people from Hell, enhance my spirituality, peace of mind, and joy? Does that make me a better, wiser, more compassionate person? No, but it is likely to make me a strident, belligerent, and self righteous nag.
Any who closely observe the church's sermons, sidebar conversation, and unguarded comments will notice that many in the church seem to relish the idea of Hell because it provides a means to deal with perceived enemies. It's an ego thing. When the subject of Hell is promoted in the churches I have experienced, I don't perceive any agonizing over the horrific nature of what is being taught and implied. People just calmly and casually listen and go on about their business as if they had just heard the account of a football game. Hell seems no big deal to church folks. The fact that the preacher includes their neighbors, friends, family members, and countless others around the globe in the march to Hell doesn't seem to faze them either. It may be unfortunate but apparently unavoidable. Why fret about it?
I find it hard to believe that people in the church are really that hard hearted. Instead I suspect that they have just developed a psychological defense mechanism to deal with the idea of Hell. Subconsciously, they really believe that in the end God will do what is right and just, regardless of what they have been taught to the contrary. In other words, they don't actually accept the church's hellfire story; they simply don't bother to say as much.
Who can blame them? Otherwise, how do you maintain your sanity, when exposed to such doctrine?