14 Jun 2009

Do Non-Believers Burn in Hell?

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At lunch at the Rothbard Graduate Seminar last week, Walter Block was explaining that he knew some atheists who were reluctant to visit the Mises Institute because the people in Auburn “are so religious.” Walter would always tell such people not to worry, that he for example was an atheist and none of the personnel or other faculty ever made him feel uncomfortable about it.

I pointed out, “Well you’re already going to hell,” and Jeff Herbener immediately followed with, “So we don’t want to pile it on.”

But this does raise a serious issue, of what I’m supposed to do with the fact that I really do think atheists are going to hell. I mean, if I truly believed there were a ticking time bomb in their house, I wouldn’t be cracking jokes about it, right?

Well, that’s true about the time bomb, but the problem with matters of faith is that my personal style of evangelism is not confrontational. And this isn’t a reflection of my timidity about Christianity–I don’t discuss politics either with people who don’t ask me about it first.

I remember when I was an atheist, I was extremely uncomfortable one time when a guy’s wife asked me if I knew Jesus. Now I realize, somebody who hands out leaflets in parking lots could say, “Well they’re gonna be extremely uncomfortable burning for eternity too!” Yes, but there’s a division of labor. I’ll let the guy handing out leaflets do his thing, and maybe he will grab a bunch of people that way.

In contrast, what I do is make my views known on this blog (or in public forums if it is appropriate), and I have even restricted the Jesus talk to Sundays. I absolutely love it when a bunch of you regular readers say things like, “Jeez Bob, you’re a good economist and very logical on a lot of things, but you went off the deep end with this God stuff.” So that’s part of my point in doing it, is to show that I think the doctrines of Christianity make sense and are logical. I utterly reject the idea–which many simple Christian folk have advanced–that you shouldn’t think too much about Biblical matters, or that you shouldn’t use your reason when contemplating God.

Final point: When I say that an atheist is “going to hell,” what I think that actually means is that the person will not enjoy communion with the Creator of the universe for all eternity. And why not? Because that person actively rejected the Creator’s offer of friendship.

So if a person has the option of accepting Jesus as personal savior and Lord, and chooses to tough it out alone, then yes it is entirely accurate to say that person has chosen to live a hell on earth, and to spend eternity in hell. The atheist can understandably say, “What are you talking about? I feel fine,” but he or she doesn’t really take me seriously when I say there is a really neat prize behind Door #1.

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