Hell – the great Christian con-trick

Ever been sold a piece of junk by a clever salesman? Or been taken in by gossip? Or been conned into a risky investment? Or bought a work of art for a high price because it made you feel sophisticated, only to discover it’s a fake? Or supported a political party because it sounded believable, only to see it break every promise it made in its first year of office?

It’s embarrassing, but not surprising, because our culture thrives on conning people. It makes us think it has our best interests at heart, but it’s really just a money and power-making machine for those who know how to manipulate and control people. It’s all a big game for them, where the slickest marketer, the smartest advertiser and the best hoodwinker wins. But even they’ve been conned too, because all the money and power they get in this life evaporates into nothing when they die.

But God did demonstrate how gullible we are by how easily a serpent conned Adam and Eve into investing their lives in a piece of fruit. But if we think they were dumb, think of the con-trick the serpent’s pulled off through the Christian church in its preaching on hell.

Hell has been marketed by Christianity with immense success. It’s conned people into thinking God is this awful ogre who’s going to fry people forever if they don’t become Christians. Has it worked? Oh yes. Preaching a terror campaign of fear to unbelievers through frightening visions of hell has been a great marketing tool for increasing church attendance. But it’s a con, because the gospel isn’t supposed to create fear, it’s supposed to drive fear out, 1 John 4:18. The gospel isn’t a message of bad news, it’s a message of good news, Romans 10:15. And it isn’t about God punishing people for unbelief, it’s a message about his mercy on the unbelieving, 1 Timothy 1:13.

Christians who preach a message of fear, therefore, are doing the devil’s work for him. So were the Pharisees, Jesus said, in the message they preached. “You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are,” Matthew 23:15.

Imagine finding out, then, that the great Christian con-trick – of using hell to scare people into becoming Christian – is actually a con-trick by the serpent on the church to use it to breed sons of hell. How embarrassing, that the church’s use of fear has been the devil’s best marketing tool for manipulating and controlling people.

Of all the cons that have ever been pulled, that one takes the biscuit.

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