Flirting with Faith

Flirting with Faith


I Don’t Care About Heaven or Hell…

posted by Joan Ball

I don’t care about heaven or hell. There, I said it. As I’ve watched the flood of blog posts, Tweets, television interviews and articles about Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person that Ever Lived and the response of folks like John Piper and Justin Taylor, I can’t help but wonder if all of this talk of where we wind up when we’re dead isn’t a convenient distraction from what people of faith should be doing in the here and now. 

Yes. I have read the Bible. I know it discusses salvation and eternity. I know there are harrowing scenes depicting lakes of fire for some and a bountiful inheritance for others. I know that some theologians and believers view these things as metaphor and others as cold, hard realities. I know that some view heaven as a place we might go and others say the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. And I know that these different takes on Christian faith have generated questions in me that have propelled forward my journey toward a deeper understanding of Father, Son and Spirit.
One of those questions, which I encountered months before the Bell/Piper afterlife controversy began, was this: Would I continue to follow Jesus if I knew I would not be going to Heaven?
This little doozie popped into my head upon waking one morning and it occupied my thoughts for many days and weeks after. It forced me to consider not just the what of my faith, but the why of it. What was my motivation for following Jesus? 
Heaven is sometimes described as an inheritance and God as the Father, so the best thing my human mind could do is bring the question down to earth. What would it be like if I had only loved and obeyed my father to collect on an inheritance? Would I stop loving and obeying my father if I learned that there was none? Would I be expressing unconditional love if I did?
It was then that I realized I had to put the question of Heaven and hell–my inheritance–on the shelf. 
The familiar Serenity Prayer asks God to grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can and the wisdom to know the difference. I cannot change the realities of life after death. There is a Heaven and hell or there isn’t. What I need to focus on is what I can change: myself by being willing and allowing myself to be transformed (by one I first understood as “higher power” and now call Jesus Christ) and the world around me by doing my best to love God and others as Jesus asked. 
Of course, my ego and tendency toward selfishness gets in the way of my doing that consistently and effectively. So I rely on prayer, scripture, community, contemplation and other spiritual practices to guide my steps. This of course, generate even more questions, motivating an even deeper pursuit of answers which starts the whole cycle over again. I remain committed to following this lather, rinse, repeat of faith to the end of my life, one day at a time…no matter where I wind up on the other side. 


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Bruce in Warwick (but wanting to be in Orcas)

posted March 18, 2011 at 10:41 am


This is perhaps the most REASONED response I’ve read so far…thanks for being bold enough to draw us back to the question.



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Ann VH

posted March 18, 2011 at 10:54 am


Excellent response Joan. To me heaven is the icing on the cake. having a daily relationship with Jesus is what it is about. To have hope, joy, peace in this life is enough. I feel I have nothing to loose if my “take” on God is wrong and there is no afterlife oh well I had so much of God here and now it was worth it. Andre Crouch had a song “If Heaven was never promised to me” he sings “It was worth just having the Lord by my side”.



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Patc477

posted March 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm


Excellent question, in my life that question never came up. Now heaven or the fear of hell is a great motivator. But i believe that most of humanity would continue to follow the teachings of Jesus as they point to a civil society. look at those who follow Buddha or Confucius. Now in my limited understanding there has to be a heaven/hell as Jesus remarked about both directly. What they entail who knows but Jesus said in my Father’s house implying a place of comfort, shelter , peace etc. As for lake of fire well that kind of says it all.Would i follow jesus knowing there was no Heaven/hell i believe we would not know of or care about a Jewish peasant carpenter from 2000 years ago, there were other who taught similar thing throughout history. Good question.



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Colin Williams

posted March 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm


Well said that woman!

Who cares whether there is a heaven or hell? You will chew on it forever because you cannot possibly verify whether it is true or false.

Just go out there and just be good (because you know its the right thing to do).

If there is a heaven it will be a bonus, if there isn’t then we’ll either be dead or with all our friends in “hell”.

Jesus said he wasn’t here to help the respectable, just those that needed him. He promises both the carrot and the stick!

God bless.



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Rev.Dr.Naik

posted March 29, 2011 at 9:29 am


Dear friends,

Knowing path is not important but walking on the path is most important. Jesus said,in John 14:6 I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 3:13 And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. In Ecclesiastes 11:8 But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.

If we know and love Him ,we will never think of Hell,hell is not for faithful Christian.Jesus Christ showed the way and He is the unique.There may be many so called gods and heroes since from the Garden of of Eden.But there is only one God and he loves us,he hated sins and loved sinners to take them where he is,it is fact and not fiction as skepticks think. Heaven and hell is the reality and no confusion. Read sincerely Bible to know things related to your life.



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Who cares

posted April 3, 2011 at 1:19 am


I find it curious then that Jesus himself talks more about heaven and particularly hell than anyone else in the Bible. If you believe in God at all, then you believe his word. If you believe that, you believe in his promises. Otherwise, go away. Go write about something else. Go do something else.



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Keith

posted April 4, 2011 at 11:57 am


Let’s live from day to day with the attitude of love and grace, being merciful to the saint and sinner alike. Lets show who Jesus is to those around us.



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Linda

posted April 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm


The Lord Jesus cared so much that He repeatedly warned about Hell. In fact He talked more about Hell than anybody else in the New Testament because He cares so much. If you care to be like Jesus you will warn others about Hell. Hell is a real place, and you will be tormented there because of your sin against God, and it goes on forever.

God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to die in place of sinners on the cross, Jesus died for sinners that deserve Hell, and He rose again from the grave on the third days. God commands all to turn from sin and trust in Christ alone, Jesus is your only hope to find forgiveness and reconcillation with God.



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Joan Ball

posted April 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm


Hi Linda: Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I hear what you are saying and do not deny that Jesus warned about Hell in the scriptures. That said, I am not sure that I interpret those scriptures as you do, specifically relating to your comment that “if you care to be like Jesus you will warn other about Hell.” In fact, I believe that there is a distinction between being a disciple of Jesus and doing exactly what Jesus did. Otherwise I would also have to aspire to deliver demons into pigs, walk on water, be an itinerant preacher, etc.



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