Why don’t Lutherans preach “hellfire and damnation”? It’s in the Bible isn’t it? Usually when I get that question, it’s other people that the questioner has in mind who need such waking up, seldom themselves.
For centuries, the church has used threat of God’s punishment to keep their followers in line. Why not? It’s proven to be an effective tool. “How do you know when you die that you won’t be sent to hell?” We never know for sure, do we?
Fear has always been a strong motivator. Today politicians use it with great results.
When Jesus rose from the dead, he declared an end to the domination of fear. Love is the new motivator. In the new age of Jesus Christ, the Gospel is communicated always as promise, never as threat.
God no longer needs to create a consciousness of the “everlasting fires” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” We can do that well on our own, thank you very much. We create our own hell.
Jesus comes to us as our liberator. Our “July 4th” celebration is the freedom we enjoy in our new life in Christ. We are set free from the many ways we torment ourselves, so that no matter the kind of day we are having, when others ask how we are, we genuinely respond with “I am blessed, truly blessed.” Thanks be to God.