Hell and Judgment Not Included

Karen and I served a church in San Antonio. This church was fed up with "fear based" Christianity. Fed up with the "Get right or get left!" theology. This church was ready to proclaim "Hell and Judgment Not Included." So the church bought billboard time in the center of the city and posted that very message using the traditional circle with a line drawn through it. The billboard drew attention. One fundamentalist pastor called me on the phone to express his disappointment in our advertising. "If you don't preach about hell scripture says you are like an anvil around the neck of others." The implication was, an anvil dragging others into the depths of hell itself. I politely listened as he finished his rant and then asked him "You preach about hell don't you?" He responded "Of course I do!" "Well let me tell you why I do not..... first, I am confident you have the preaching about hell and judgment covered for our geographic area. I don't need to cover ground you are covering so effectively. Second, when I read the scriptures, and do all the things that Jesus tells me to do, I find myself carving out a 60 hour per week workload. If I just do the things Jesus tells me to do then I don't have any time left to preach hell and judgment." Our conversation ended shortly after that.

The purpose of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Is it more effective to transform the world using fear to change behavior or using forgiveness and proclaiming hope to the oppressed? Don't get me wrong, I believe the gospel is meant to afflict the comfortable as well as comfort the afflicted but I know we have done a spectacular job with the first one and have largely missed the boat on the second one.