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Is there a Hell? There's always hope for a heathen!

June 03, 2011|By Lloyd "Pete" Waters

Boy, last week was an interesting time for me in terms of reading.

Stephen Hawking, a renowned scientist, announced to the world that there is no heaven; and Rob Bell, an evangelist, announced to the same world in his new book, "Love Wins," that there is no hell.

What is one to think? No heaven and no hell?

What are we to do?

Fellow Herald-Mail columnist Allan Powell might be sitting in his study thinking, "There, I told you so."

Others, however, will remain convinced that there is a heaven; others will remain convinced that there is a hell.

Trying to get to one while avoiding the other seems to be the objective of many.

Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, maybe a bad boss at work, a nonbeliever, a lousy neighbor, someone who abuses pets or mistreats the elderly, someone who uses drugs or robs and kills, or someone who believes differently than you do, might all be good candidates for hell. And why not?

Punishment for all the bad people seems more than a little just, right?

Wait a minute. "Let he without sin cast the first stone" was a good phrase that made the self-righteous stop and pause for a moment. I'm not so sure God likes it when we tell everyone we know exactly what He is thinking.

If we do the right stuff, according to certain religious doctrine, there is a mansion awaiting us where the streets are paved with gold. But if we do the wrong stuff, there is a fiery consequence awaiting us.

Most evangelists, heretofore, have always preached that there is a hell. Most will also describe the behaviors and the path that will lead you there.

Many will profess to be speaking for God. Bell is not so sure. He raises the argument that a God who truly loves his creation would not condemn billions of people to an eternity of hot fire.

That sort of judgment, he concludes, would seem to contradict the powerful love that God is supposed to have for each of us.  Remember the lost sheep story.

Myself? Well, I'm always a little leery of those people who presume to have all the answers. As I read these works, I wondered if God might have designed them simply to provoke our thinking.

I once heard a story that seems to provide another thought on the subject. I hope it might help you as well.

As the story goes, it was just about evening when the old man was walking down the road toward his home. As he walked the road through the forest, he happened to see a figure in the distance. As he got closer, he saw that the figure had wings and appeared to be an angel of sorts.

When he got nearer yet, he noticed that the figure had a candle in one hand and a bucket of water in the other. The old man stopped. "Are you an angel of God?" the old man asked.  "Yes" came the reply.

"What are you going to do with that bucket of water?" The angel responded, "I'm going to put out all the fires of hell." "Wow" said the old man in a jubilant mode. "That's great!"

"What are you going to do with that candle?" the old man then asked. The angel replied, "I'm going to burn down all the mansions in heaven."  

"Why in the world would you want to do that?" queried the old man in disbelief.

"Because after I put out the fires of hell and burn down the mansions in heaven, then I will surely discover how many people truly love God," the angel said.

"And at the end of the day, that's what God really wants to know," the Angel remarked before disappearing.

The old man scratched his head and continued his journey home.

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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