If I could revise Christianity, I’d eliminate hell. Very few people enjoy believing that hell exists and that those who don’t place their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will spend eternity tormented by its terrors. I spent a sizable chunk of my Christian life ignoring the doctrine of hell to such an extent that I wouldn’t even pray for the salvations of non-Christian family and friends. The thought of them suffering eternal separation from God just hurt too deeply.
Even now, I don’t like thinking about it. Most of my regular prayers these days do concentrate on those who haven’t surrendered to Jesus, beseeching Him to let them hear the Gospel and to give them faith to believe it. Those prayers still wrench my heart, but I rejoice in God’s sovereignty to answer as He sees fit.
My distaste for the doctrine of hell honors God in the respect that He’s given me a love for people and a desire to see them experience His mercy. That distaste also motivates me to pray, as well as to seek opportunities to proclaim the Gospel. Evangelism isn’t my spiritual gift, admittedly, but I see the critical importance of telling people about the salvation that only comes through Jesus.
If I could eliminate the doctrine of hell, I’d have to also eliminate the wonder of Christ’s Incarnation and substitutionary atonement. Yet those great events provide the clearest demonstration we have of His glorious love. Could we appreciate (or even understand) how deeply and boldly He loves His own apart from knowing something of the horrors we face without His demonstration of grace?
I know I love Him most when I realize that He rescued me from a horrible eternity. His mercy on me causes me to adore Him because I see His love for me. So perhaps hell, as much as we’d like to blot it out of our minds, helps us better understand His glories. I never want to eliminate anything that allowed me to see His love.