Once again I'd like to turn your attention to my friend and co-blogger Jim Babka, an orthodox evangelical Christian, president of Downsize DC, and former Press Secretary to the late great Harry Browne (for whom I proudly voted). Yet Babka also rejects Sola Scriptura, embraces evolution and endorses a notion of "future rewards and punishments" that is far more rational and consistent with the "natural law" than traditional orthodox notions of eternal damnation, especially of the evangelical bent. I have compared Babka to Benjamin Rush and I believe Babka's Christianity is far closer to America's Founding political theological ideals than what we see coming from most evangelicals and fundamentalists.
As he writes:
There seems to be some concern about the Divine Judge issuing punishment. “Is that not coercive?” Of course it is! No one here is opposed to all forms of coercion. It’s doubtful anyone here would, for example, say there’s never a reason to send any man to prison. The Constitutional standard is that such coercion can’t be deployed without due process of law. Again, I wonder why the objection is only raised when a personal God is suggested. Is he not likely to be a fair judge?
Jon Rowe has compared me to Benjamin Rush in that I have some heterodoxy mixed in with orthodoxy. I don’t like everything I know about Rush, but in the limited context Rowe presents it, I tend to agree. And to make the comparison more apt, like Rush, I believe in a form of universalism which occurs after death, and probably after a visit to something we might call Hades, Purgatory, or pick your preferred Dantesque analogy.
I know I’ve opened a can of worms by suggesting such a “backwards” belief. Hell understandably makes people anxious (and please don’t assume what I think about the subject, I’ll try to write about it in the future). But I do so for this reason…
I want Hitler to serve time in hell — and for this part, it should have demons, fire, and torture (perhaps, like sitting in a pot of burning oil). That is just. He deserves it. He can have the space next to Stalin, Pol Pot, and more minor serial murderers who lacked the benefit of a government to do their evil.
To which I responded:
I think your idea of the afterlife makes a lot of sense. The biggest problem I have with traditional orthodox Christianity, esp. of the evangelical bent, is that folks like Hitler could have a last minute conversion, have all of their sins forgiven and spend no time in Hell when all of the Jews he executed because they didn’t accept Christ get eternal damnation for their ordinary sins like stealing a box of chocolates when they were younger. And to compound this, if Hell really is that bad, it’s just unthinkable that ordinary folks are being punished in that sense for their ordinary sins.
This dynamic of Christianity makes it a non-starter for me. It’s like an Islamofanatic trying to convince me of the “reasonableness” of Allah sending those airplanes into the WTC and rewarding them with virgins. I can’t even begin to logically debate something so illogical, but just reject it out of hand as a self evident lie.