Whose Soul Will Be Condemned To Torment?

There has been a lively discussion going on over at Scot McKnight’s blog, Jesus Creed, about Brian McLaren’s view of the Soul-Sort Narrative in his new book, A New Kind Of Christianity.  Unfortunately, some of the theological talk went over my head but the last comment (at least it was the last one as of today) shared one of those real life illustrations that leaves a lot of the theological banter sounding cold and shallow.  Comment #107 by Lindsey, asked the question:  “Whose soul will be condemned to torment?”   Here’s part of what Lindsey had to say:

I attended a funeral of a man that I worked with. He was in his mid-forties and died of a rare form of cancer. He and his family were devoutly Jewish. The service was moving, spiritual, and had the raw feeling of the God of Abraham in Holy Spirit in the room. This man, Brooke, was an ophthalmologist, and had left his successful and lucrative practice to teach high school science to inner city kids. I taught with him. The kids were heartbreaking, helpless, and hopeless, and he built them up in every way. As he went through painful treatment, he refused to quit teaching, and taught up until a week before he died. The synagogue at his funeral was filled with his students: poor kids, minority kids, kids that had never set foot in a house of worship before. Through Brooke, these kids, and all who worked with him, saw God. Brooke, though he didn’t know it, was a true servant of Christ. Meanwhile, my very Christian neighbors across the street sport a confederate flag bumper sticker right next to their cross. Through this simple gesture, they have turned away many people in my neighborhood from even being willing to hear the name of Jesus. These people, have condemned countless people to eternity without Christ through their ignorance and selfishness.
So tell me, who’s soul will be condemned to torment?

In many ways this question is not relavant for me these days as I don’t embrace the theology that revolves around “who is going to heaven? who is going to hell?” but I believe the story that Lindsey surrounds the question with is important as it demonstrates the problem with the type of theology that I grew up with.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Whose Soul Will Be Condemned To Torment?

  1. April Coldsmith

    Christianity has had it wrong for long. We think our mission is to evangelize — get those souls to heaven — when it should be love and only love. How can I serve you? What can I do to make your life easier? What can I do for the oppressed? By focusing on a litmus test, all are oppressed; By affirming all are in, everyone is loved.

    1. gracerules Post author

      April – I know the Christianity I grew up within had the mindset you speak of. When we did befriend or serve there was always an agenda. Sure we said it was a loving agenda but imo it tainted what we did and I believe people could sense that. There was definitely “your out/I’m in” and “don’t you wanna be one of the in people like me” and I think people could sense that even when it wasn’t said. It seperated us from them. I’ve shed that agenda these days and I love and serve for the sake of others and it finally feels right.

  2. Jarred H

    I know which person I would rather have for a neighbor!

    That statement, and this whole blog post, completely underscores one of my major criticisms of many Christian denominations and churches: there’s just way too much focus on the afterlife and making sure you have a comfortable one. I’m far more concerned about this life and improving it for all those around me. And it’s for that reason that I totally admire the gentleman described in the comment: he understood that exceptionally well. And wherever his soul may or may not end up, I will argue that his memory will live in the hearts of all he touched for a long time to come. I hope I can be half as lucky.


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