From my earliest memories, I was always confused about how we (as the only true believers going to heaven) could be so nonchalant about sending so many people to hell. According to the doctrine, most of our friends, neighbors, and even many of our relatives were going to spend eternity in a lake burning with fire and brimstone, but we just laughed and socialized and only showed any concern during heated revivals. The rest of the time, we acted as if we really didn’t care. How could this be?
There were also times when I observed some seeming to almost rejoice that some ‘jerk’ was headed for the lake of fire! And then it was also understood that “they were making their own bed and would have to lay in it – even if it was on fire!”
We would rejoice when someone would come to church and make a start but if they slipped up and didn’t stay, we quickly tch, tched, them back on the road to damnation.
As an adult this always still bothered me, even though I was very hesitant to bring many friends to my out of the mainstream church and carried a heavy load of guilt for my complicity in their not finding salvation.
Finally as a senior citizen, I have escaped the cult and clearly see the ridiculousness of the doctrine that would take God’s plan and create a burden so heavy that none can bear it. Who among us is able to bear the burden of believing that all but those in this one doctrine are headed for eternal damnation, irregardless of whether they are loving, believing, kind, caring Christians? The doctrine of the cult condemns them for clothing choices, ordinary daily activities, and hairstyles.
Christ condemned the Pharisees that would put these heavy burdens on those He had set free. God isn’t measuring your sleeve length or checking out your bling, He is looking on your heart AND He tells us by their fruit shall you know them. Is this fruit clothing, hairstyles, or other outward appearance? NO, this fruit is LOVE . . . . .by this shall you know that they are my disciples, that they have LOVE one to another. I remember, from my earliest memories that many of those being condemned to Hell by the United Pentecostal Church were full of love, kindness, gentleness, meekness, . . . . .
Oh, but, (they would say) what about Cornelius? He still had to be baptized and be filled with the Spirit! Yes, but did he then have to be circumcised (ie: follow the Pharisees law)? No, he did not! Who are you to judge another man’s servant? Is it for us to judge who is baptized and correctly filled with God’s Spirit or were we told by God that “by the fruit of God’s love shining forth in their life we would know them”!?
I would venture one step further . . . .how many doing the condemning show any measure of love, especially to those without. . . . .it is easy to love those who love us, do not even the infidels do this but God commands us to love even the jerk that we would prefer to send to Hell . . . . . . . .and that love should be so obvious and overwhelming as to be clearly seen as a signal that we belong to Him. Sadly, I found very little evidence of this kind of love within the UPC.