My Friend Doesn’t Believe in Hell… is She Still a Christian?


Just so you know, I’m no theologian. I am in fact a very simple minded woman. With a simple faith. I am a Christian because Christ died for me. No more, no less. I forget that sometimes and get hung up on fruits of faith.

Here’s a question that has come up not once, but three times in the past two weeks. What is a Christian exactly?

First via a friend who’s being attacked for her political views and being accused of being Anti-Christian. Half my friends support Obama – I’m on the fence sifting through the media garbage looking for facts instead of sound bites. But I’m still a Christian, and so is she.

The second came via my son who is part of the planning committee for Journey in January – a high school retreat at Camp. The camp leader asked them “What is a Christian” and these kids listed a bunch of characteristics that describe a Christian (Evidence of Faith really) but apparently did not answer his question. He looked over their list and said “If that’s a Christian, than I’m not a Christian.” This totally confused my son because he insists every attribute on that board fit that man. What was he looking for? My son has until Sunday to figure that out.

And three – I have a Lutheran friend who does not believe in hell. And you know, that kinda freaked me out. I understand now that the no such thing as hell thinking isn’t new, and that a lot of Christians really do believe that even if their church or denomination doesn’t. I momentarily climbed up on my deer stand and wanted to take aim, because I think if you don’t believe in hell (which was created for Satan originally) than why do you believe Jesus died, from what did he save us… and spiral just goes down from there. But then I remembered some things.

Mainly, I remember sitting in my car with a speaker I was hostessing last year as she offered a spontaneous prayer “Dear Lord, forgive us when we gag on a gnat and call it a camel.” We were talking about how I love the fact that LCMS Lutherans believe that the Bible is the complete and inerrant word of God as opposed to a piece of literature subjective to the days and times it was written. I went on to add that I believe it to be alive and active, a present active participle kind of word, true yesterday, today and tomorrow. It was then she said that prayer.

I didn’t ask why she prayed that or what gnat was being gagged on and by whom. I was afraid to. I wanted her to like me and if she didn‘t, well I just did not want to know. It could have been me, the fact that I am LCMS Lutheran (there are people who believe we are not Christian btw..) or the fact that I smoke, or it was simply a reaction to my sharing about the splits in the Lutheran Church Who knows. As for liking me? I was worried for nothing. She has such a mothering spirit that I wanted to crawl into her lap by time the weekend was over. I wish she lived nearby. But God knows me. I tend to make idols of out mentors and to keep me from doing that, he only offers them seasonally – keeping me ever needy and focused on Him alone. That is for my benefit – believe me.

Some people gags on gnats, I climb up on deer stands. Different thing, but yet the same. Both lack love and yet love keeps finding us.

Truth remains no matter what. And truth can be shocking. A Christian is saved by Grace through faith, Justified by the Blood of Christ and Sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Salvation, Justification and Sanctification. Those are the things that make a Christian.

There are things about me that choke other people … things that are strong holds for others when they look at me and may have been for Mama T, I don’t know.

I’m hyper and tend to be passionate about weird things. And yet, passion is a gift from God.

I smoke. I’m trying to quit, but I still do it nonetheless. Smoking will not keep me out of heaven – it will however quell the Holy Spirit, hurt my testimony and get me to heaven more quickly than I might be ready for.

I was born in a home for unwed mothers, given up for adoption and retrieved from my foster home by my grandparents. – Truth – I may have started out illegitimate, unloved, and abandoned, but in Christ? – I am adopted, cherished and redeemed. His blood gave me my papers so to speak.

I have deer stand issues as well – things I look at and gag over.. Things I won’t bore you with because frankly they are just judgmental issues that show you how shallow and unloving I can be.

The truth is, you can be a Christian and not believe the Bible is inerrant, you can be a Christian and have differing political views, you can be a Christian and not believe in hell. A Christian is a sinner whose been forgiven by God, through the blood of Christ. There are no tic marks on God’s wall, because his blood covers them all, past, present, and future.

His blood covers the gnats, camels, and deer stands as well. His blood covers you and it covers me. That’s a good thing, because even though I’m a Christian, I mess up a lot. I blow my witness. My actions sometimes deny Christ, I run on my own steam until I drop, I forget to pray, I throw pity parties complete with balloons and streamers and invite the world along, and in the end, I come running to Him, on my knees, yet face up, so that his blood hits my heart. And he speaks to my heart, and loves me still. How cool is that?

post thought – please don’t misunderstand me here. I am not speaking of inclusion theology. Jesus made it perfectly clear, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one shall come to the father except through me.” This is most certainly true.

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