I started reading Evolving in Monkey Town the other day and was excited this afternoon to discover that Evans asks many of the same questions as I do. I’m not quite half-way through the book so I don’t know if she gives any answers, but there is something affirming about finding someone else who wonders/wondered about the same things.
“Isn’t it a little suspicious that the only true religion is the one with which we happen to grow up?” -Rachel Held Evans
One of the first questions I began asking over a year ago when I finally allowed myself TO question things was “How can we Christians be so sure that we are right and everyone else is wrong? How can we be absolutely positive that all the people around the world who don’t believe the same as us will spend eternity in hell for their mistakenness?” I’ve wondered this for the last 10 years or so but, because I blindly accepted the things I grew up hearing from my parents and sunday school teachers and pastors, I kept shoving that question to the back of my mind hoping it would eventually go away. But it hasn’t.
Why was I a Christian? Really, I almost didn’t have a choice. I was born in Canada in the 80’s to a young Christian couple whose parents and grandparents were also Christians. I was raised in the church and grew up hearing all the Bible stories both at home and at Sunday School. When I was about 3 I remember waking up in the middle of the night. It was dark and I was alone and a little scared. I don’t remember WHY I thought to do this (perhaps the bits about “Jesus is always with you and will protect you” popped into my mind. I don’t know.) but I remember sitting up in bed and asking Jesus into my heart.
Evans talks in her book about how a person’s religion is at least influenced if not determined by when they are born and where they are raised. Of course anyone can change their beliefs at any time, but many if not most people don’t. And for the majority of the world past, present, and future who do not believe or have not heard that the creator of the universe came to earth in a human body, died on our behalf to save us from sin, rose from the dead three days later and now demands that we “believe in” him or else spend eternity in torment, the “gospel” (aka “good news”) is about the worst news they could ever receive.
I honestly find it incredibly difficult to believe that God can both love every human he has created AND condemn the majority of those loved creations to an eternity of torture. I can’t think of any situation in which I could send someone I love to a place of torture for a month, let alone eternity. And I can’t think of anyone I could in good conscience sentence to an eternity in hell. Does that make me more loving than the God of the Bible? Because seriously, if the Bible is telling the truth about who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, most of the world’s people are going to hell simply because they were born in the wrong part of the world at the wrong time. If he really truly loves them, he could do something about that. He SHOULD do something about it.