Heaven, H*ll and External Motivation

Photo by Hryck.

I live deep in the Bible Belt. Which generally doesn’t affect my day-to-day life. But every now and then, something crops up. Like Pat Robertson running out of foreign countries and dignitaries to attack, and choosing my denomination instead. Or when the little girls in the neighborhood start to proselytize.

My daughter came home a while ago and told me that one of her playmates told her she was going to h-e-double-hockey-sticks. All because my daughter doesn’t go to this playmate’s church.

I figured we’d get to this point sometime. After all, I saw it all over the place when I was growing up. Several religions claimed that if you didn’t believe what they did, that you were destined somewhere warm.

(As a side note, logically, if you have two or more churches that believe that if others don’t subscribe to their beliefs they are going to heck, then everyone is going there…)

I’m a Unitarian-Universalist, which I will abbreviate as UU for short. This is a merging of two denominations. The Universalist part of our heritage stems from the belief that God doesn’t play favorites. Everyone will be saved. Yep, we don’t believe that there is a place of eternal damnation.

I’ve talked this over with friends belonging to churches not as far removed from the tree as we are about why the Inferno is needed. The responses, without exception, have been that it provides a definite punishment for failing to live a good life.

Hmm. This makes me wonder why living a good life for the sake of living a good life isn’t enough? Isn’t it enough to be kind and loving simply because the other person is human? Isn’t it enough to play by societal rules because it makes live harmonious, not because some dead dude years ago decided it was how it must be done?

To me, intrinsic rewards are better than external threats. But then that philosophical difference might be at the root of why I’m a UU rather than a member of another religion.

Photo by Hryck.


3 thoughts on “Heaven, H*ll and External Motivation

  1. Real quick –

    You slightly misrepresents Christian Theology – hell is not a place where people who are not good enough go to. The bible is very clear in stating that no one (not even Pat) is good enough. In fact, it teaches that even on our BEST days, it is all filthy rags before the Lord.

    Jesus’ blood sacrifice on the cross satisfied the wrath of God – this is then offered as a free choice to you to either accept or reject. The writings are clear, it is your choice that condemns you to heaven or hell, not how good you are. Many will hear…Many will reject.

    If you really want to see a good show off of netflix that tackles two objections to Christianity (Why does a Good God allow Evil to Exits, and How can Christians claim that Christ is the only way to God when so many religions exists) is the Case For Faith (available on Watch Now).


  2. I can’t speak to other Christian theology. My training is with the Roman Catholic church (which most other branches of Christianity spring from).

    As I was raised, if you committed a mortal sin (such as not going to church on a Holy Day or murder or something equally grievous), you were going to Hell. If you died unconfessed, you would spend time in Purgatory until your soul was redeemed. The only way you would get to Heaven was to have repented of all sins and received absolution before death.

    So perhaps the other branches of Christianity have backed off (rightly, IMO) from the overly strict and pedantic policy. But the Catholic Church of my youth had a very black and white policy.

  3. Oh yes, I forgot the bit about baptism. If a child should die before baptism, they are automatically condemned. Nice, huh?

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