“So… do you think I’m going to hell?” (there was a Seinfeld episode about this, )
“It doesn’t matter what I think. I’m not the judge. God is.”
“Well… do you think you are going to hell?”
“Of course not! I’ve accepted Jesus as my…”
“Well… I haven’t. So, you must think I’m going to hell!”
“Listen. It’s not about hell. It’s about finding eternal fulfillment in a personal relationship with Jesus.”
“If you have this personal relationship, then you can at least tell me if Jesus is the kind of guy that would send someone to hell for feeling fulfilled without him! How personal is this relationship!?”
Someday, I will write a book called Simple, Easy, Religionless Christianity Made Understandable. I’ll write whatever I want, but that will be the title because there seems to be a market for these books. I own at least two.* Many Christian college students in my classes lump all of life into three piles (Sometimes its just Piles 1 & 3).
Pile 1: Everything I need to believe or do to get into heaven when I die.
Pile 2: Everything obligatory or forbidden that will incur guilt and shame if denied.
Pile 3: Everything else, including the explanations for the things in Piles 1 & 2.
Movement 1: Consolidate and Assimilate - They want to know "the essentials." What constitutes "mere" Christianity, the things all true Christians should agree about? We talk about this as a class and come up with a list. Then people add things that not everyone in class agrees on. We argue down to a basic list.
Movement 2: Proliferate and Differentiate - I begin to ask them to explain these things. We quickly develop explanations that don't make much sense and about which very few people can agree. The street utility of some things in Pile 1 becomes fragile. The neccesity of working on Pile 3 becomes apparent, but when things get too complicated... we're back to Movement 1.