This article is the conclusion of my thoughts on the concept of hell.
It deals with the pervasiveness of the hell notion and the important role it plays in the world’s main religions (notably Christianity).
I am of the opinion that without the threat of a hell, Christianity (Islamism) will become much less controversial and would most likely take on a very benign role on the world stage of religions and life stances.
Throughout the ages, the threat of eternal damnation has been around in many forms: From the explicit “You will burn in hell”, to various implicit warnings and veiled threats. The former is rarely heard nowadays and is mainly reserved for use by the fundamentalists and fanatics. The latter is still very ubiquitous in our “enlightened” day and age…
Implicit threats may take on many different forms such as: Someone praying for your soul, or comments like “may God have mercy on his/her soul”, and “what if you’re wrong by rejecting religion A, B or C”? Imploring you to accept Christ as your saviour and, “your only salvation is through Christ”, are also used very often.
The concept of salvation through Christ is, in my opinion, one of the most entrenched beliefs in mainstream Christianity. The aim is most likely to put a “positive spin” on this core belief by euphemising the eternal damnation that it implies.
The need (and intrusiveness) of religion to “save souls” by means of evangelism and missionary work should become redundant if the notion of hell ceases to exist. It provides a strong motivation for those believers that try to convert each and everyone…
I have postulated in the past that, should this drive or need to save souls disappear, a lot of inter-religious hatred might then also cease to exist. If eternal damnation is not at stake, what does it matter whose God is the right God?
In the absence of the vengeful God of The Old Testament, the most powerful tool to ensure adherence is the threat of (severe) punishment in the so-called afterlife.
A final thought for Christians to consider: Should your religion take on a more benign form (like Buddhism), would its followers not be much more genuine in their beliefs and less “God fearing”?
I trust that this final submission will help explain my preoccupation with the hell concept and thus my hope for its eradication from our minds.