"Dear Stephanie, I have a burning question for you, your readers, anyone that can give me an answer. How do you get over the Fundie fear of burning in hell for eternity and still be a critical thinker? I'm between a rock and a hard place. I've always had issues with CC even as a child (and pastor's daughter). So often I would think "This isn't right. This doesn't make sense." only to be verbally slammed with some bible verse to shut me up. Revelation 3:16 is a favorite scare tactic: "So -- because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit thee out of my mouth." I can laugh at SCCL, *like* posts and feel like I've finally found people that believe what I've always believed; yet there is a voice whispering (sometimes screaming) "You aren't doing it right. You aren't doing it our way. You're going to burn in hell. Forever!!! Lake of fire!! Forever!!" I don't know how to get over the pervasive fear. Any wisdom or thoughts would be most appreciated. Thanks."
Here is what I said:
"Hmm. Well, I think that hell very much exists on earth, as does heaven...reading The Great Divorce helped me with that, and also learning more about the original languages and what the biblical text actually was saying. I'm convinced that hell stuff is all poetic. I think people choose to be in hell. For example, I know some people who I believe are in hell even though they're alive - they have disowned all of their children and don't see their grandkids and live in a beautiful big house that is empty and full of despair...all by their own choosing. I can't imagine a worse hell than that. If fiery hell is real then bring it on because I can't imagine anything more torturous than living every day in fear of going there (done that). But I'm convinced that hell isn't a literal place but that hell is where love is not.
My friend Tracie read this Richard Rohr quote to me on Tuesday and it was so beautiful tears sprang to my eyes as if I'd been slapped across the face: “Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God's own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.”