When I was a member of the evangelical cult, I was taught this was the fate of all unbelievers. I was also taught that if I didn't do everything in power to convert them, it would be mine, too.
Growing up, I was taught this was the fate of all unbelievers. I was also taught that if I didn’t do everything in power to convert them, it would be mine, too.

Feeling guilty? No? Well, you will after watching this scarefest. Basically, it’s says God loves you so much that if you don’t love him back, he will condemn you to eternal, fiery torment. More than that, if you do love God back, but don’t pester the living shit out of everyone around you until they do too, you’ll be sorry. To that, I say (in the words of Enid Strict):

As you can see, I’m not in the greatest of moods this morning. Diana is having a minor medical procedure and we had to be at the surgical center at 6:30. Since this is all happening in the traffic nightmare that is Wake County, that means I had to get up at 5:15 in the A-fucking-M. Now, that would be difficult for most people, but for a guy that likes to sit around in his pajamas sipping coffee all morning, it’s a stone bitch. Maybe I’m a little sensitive right now, but this “Letter from Hell” video pisses me off. I am sick to death of Christians scaring the shit out of people in order to avoid a non-existent guilt trip.

Besides the dubious quality of a salvation that is by fear and guilt, there’s the fact this interpretation of the Gospel reduces everything Jesus did during his time on earth to a get-out-of-jail-free card. Of course, my evangelical friends would argue that it does nothing of the sort; that this perspective causes them to venerate Jesus all the more. I don’t think so and here’s why: when your focus is confined solely to the Cross and the afterlife, you miss the point of almost everything Jesus said and did during his life.

I’m not sure what pisses me off more: the reduction of the Gospel to a get-out-of-jail free card or the guilt trip this thinking puts on Christians. Growing up in the beginnings of the evangelical subculture((that should probably be written “subculture”)), I was expected to “witness” to anyone and everyone on the off-chance they hadn’t heard the “good news” that Jesus had died for their sins, the miserable bastards((“miserable bastards” was implied. As good Christians, we might look down on people, but we would never, ever use profanity)). I’m pretty introverted and the idea of walking up to someone I’d never met and asking if they knewJesus as their personal Lord and savior freaked me out like nobody’s business and I didn’t do it very much((and by “didn’t do it very much, I mean “didn’t do it at all”)). So, in addition to being freaked out by even the prospect of proselytizing strangers, I had tons of guilt because I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’ve got to believe that if I felt that way, others did/do, too. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Jesus was going for with The Great Commission.

A lot of folks are concerned about the way people are eschewing the Church, these days. Theories as to why range from a lack of engagement in the community to the way we do Sunday School. But, I think these attempts to scare and/or guilt people into believing the way we do play a large part in this growing abstention from religion. If the Church wants to stop its downward spiral, maybe it should reconsider the way it deals with this question. That’s a nice way of saying if we want Christianity to remain a relevant and viable part of society, maybe we should acting like assholes.