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Fear Of Hell - Let's Talk!


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Hell! (Before reading further, find match, light it and put it under your ass)

 

Let’s explore what role hell played in your former xtian life:

 

1) When you were a xtian, did you fear hell a little or a lot?

(If you would describe yourself as **never** fearing hell, please explain. Did your church not believe in it or did you personally dismiss it?)

 

2) What most contributed to your fear? Family, preaching (which brand), books, the bible or…?

 

3) Did you resolve your fear of hell before or after de-conversion?

 

4) How many years after de-conversion did you feel momentary twangs of fear?

 

 

My answers:

1) My fear of hell was moderate. I converted as a teenager and was attracted to xtianity as a philosophy of living that would help me grow. Additional positives were the fellowship and love that xtians all feel for the newbies. My conversion affected me deeply and was not driven by fear of hell. When I left, the impact of hell was not so great for me. I grieved the loss of my fantacy that god had the power to change my life and that the bible and faith in god was able to bring good things into my life by giving me a good character.

 

2) Pentecostal preaching mostly. I did not attend a fire and brimstone church. Pentecostals emphasize getting the spirit of god into their lives which is more of a “carrot” approach. Nonetheless, hell often came up in the preaching and constant patter about saving souls from hell served to underscore the hell fear.

 

3) Just like my conversion, hell did not play into my calculations to de-convert.

 

4) It has been more than 17 years that I walked away from the nightmare of xtianity and just last year, I had a twang of fear that just maybe, I was missing something. Since then, I have signed up to many atheist boards and find that reading the views of others really makes a difference.

 

Eric

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1. Even when I thought I was saved, I didn't like hearing about Hell. My earliest concept of Hell is poster that came with a Bible study they'd teach us as children: Angels shoving scared humans off a cliff into the fire. I tried to keep the possibility out of mind, and focus on Heaven. The Rapture also annoyed me. I've come to the realization that I was a naturalists even back then, I was just trying to fool myself.

 

2. That picture, teaching, preaching.I remember falling asleep during a service abot Hell where the preaching was screaming "WAKE UP!". He wasn't talking to me. My parents told me that hell was a dark, hot place. (Darkness and fire? Wait...). My dad would tell me about how if the Earth was a ball of steel, and an eagle touched it with its beak every thousand years, then by the time the earth had been worn down, that would be the beginning of eternity.

 

3. The fear of hell is deeply ingrained. I recognize it's a scare tactic, but it's something I was taught all of my life. It's hard to dimiss even when I know it's irrational. Hell made me hate God.

 

4. It's been two years, and the vast majority of the time I'm OK.

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1. It was the fear of hell that actually brought me to getting "saved" in the first place, but I was just a young kid then. It was during a string of hellfire-and-brimstone sermons in a baptist church.

 

2. Afterword, I had no fear of hell. I was "saved".

 

3. A few years later, as my deconversion process began, by that time I still had no fear of hell because I realized it wasn't real.

 

4. I haven't feared it since.

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1. When I was a Christian, I found myself fearing Hell quite a bit. The more pressing fear in my mind, though, was missing the "Rapture". I constantly felt like a didn't measure up to Christian standards for behavior, so I was always worried that I was backslidden and wouldn't be Raptured with the other Christians and that in the hereafter I would be consigned to Hell.

 

2. Saving sinners from their fate in Hell was always stressed as the primary duty of every Christian in the evangelical churches I attended. And there were always the constant reminders like, "You know where liars go..."

 

3. This is a tougher question. I didn't fear Hell as I began to question the validity of Christianity. I think this is because earlier on I had decided that God wouldn't want me to operate out of fear of Hell anway. I figured that if what matters most to God is the motivation of a man's heart ("God looketh on the heart"), then serving Christ out of fear of Hell would not be pleasing to Him. So I decided it was futile to let the fear of Hell inform my actions and decisions.

 

4. Well, it's been about two years now, and I've be free of Hell-fear the whole time. To me the whole thing seems unjust to the extent that it makes the idea of a just God absurd. That and it smells too much of a man-made scare tactic.

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1. Moderately, but there was a pattern: my fear of hell escalated as I started to question before my deconversion, and of course subsided after.

 

2. The whole ball of wax: family, bible, sermons... It all worked together to promote fear of hell.

 

3. After, although it subsided more quickly than it built up.

 

4. It's been 21 years since my deconversion. I haven't felt a twang in... it's gotta be a good 15 years. As any traces of the possibility it might exist dissapated, so did the fear.

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Let's explore what role hell played in your former xtian life:

 

Eric, thanks for raising this question. It prompts me to sort through some issues--it's a therapeutic exercise.

 

1) When you were a xtian, did you fear hell a little or a lot?

Moderate but firm and uncompromising. It was a major motivator when I was about 13. As I matured it had a less direct influence on day to day life. I think I got to the place where I just knew that I was a good person, that my heart was right, and that God understood my intentions no matter how people judged me. I was born into the church, baptized at age 17 like my peers.

2) What most contributed to your fear? Family, preaching (which brand), books, the bible or…?

 

All of the above.

Brand: Pietist. No hellfire and brimstone sermons.

 

BUT:

 

Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand!!!

Implication: If you don't repent before you die you'll go to hell.

 

Sin (from which one had to repent) was left undefined.

Huge emphasis on If you don't accept these things on faith you'll go to hell. God doesn't like people who don't believe. God wants us to accept on faith! It's the faith that counts!

 

Implication: If you don't have enough faith you'll go to hell.

 

One could go to hell for not having enough faith. You can guess what that does to the deconversion process.

3) Did you resolve your fear of hell before or after de-conversion?

 

(According to the dates I worked out below, I guess it was before.)

To answer this question I'd have to establish dates and definitions to determine the line between belief and unbelief. Because our religion emphasizes growing into a relationship with God and growing in the faith rather than getting saved, stages and dates were unimportant and not noted. I'll see what I can pull together from memory.

 

I stopped believing in the wrathful orthodox christian god long ago. At least twenty years ago. I replaced that god with a mystical, force of the universe kind of God. I stopped believing in Jesus at least that long ago. But I didn't know it; didn't dare say it even to myself.

 

Clear-cut dates and lines:

  • rebellion against christ and everything christianity stands for: in church during a plaintive song about Jesus' suffering for OUR SINS (sin is undefined) on a Good Friday morning, perhaps in the year 1989.
  • conscious decision to disobey: about Dec. 1997
  • coming out about my decision: approx. Aug. 1, 1999.
  • meeting with church and decision to leave the church: approx. Aug. 19, 1999.
  • official deconversion: Sept. 9, 2006

4) How many years after de-conversion did you feel momentary twangs of fear?

 

According to the above dates, none.

 

Approximately March 2004 I confided in my pastorly Christian prof about my fear. I knew that he does not believe in hell before this conversation. He said somewhat flippantly, "Oh well, when you die you'll find out." Maybe it showed on my face. In a genuine and sympathetic voice he added, "I guess then it will be too late." Having a devout Christian identify with my fear released what was left of it. I had already worked through the major stuff.

 

I would say since then I have had no twangs. All the same, I still find myself glomming onto any and all pieces evidence that hell is not real. It's as though I still need to prove I'm right. I guess that speaks for itself.

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I have memories of dreaming of walls of fire when I was five or six years old. That's about the only time I ever remember truly fearing Hell. Like most have already said, I spent the intervening years either A) convinced that I was saved and didn't have to worry, B.) convinced that Hell exists, but that our caring God had provided for everyone (a more liberal theology), or C), it never really existed.

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I didn't believe in Hell except as a remote possibility. The concept sounded wrong from the get-go, but it was obvious to me that such a concept could be very useful to people in power.

 

At a fairly early age I resolved to take my chances that any extant gods were basically decent and intelligent beings who wouldn't create such a nasty place.

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I feared Hell A LOT. I was raised Southern Baptist...need I say more? Once I was saved(at 5), I feared for many years that I hadn't done it right and might still end up in Hell. I walked the aisle two more times, was baptised two more times and spent countless hours praying that it took. Being Baptist, "Rescue the PErishing" was a favorite hymn. I feared for the lives of innocent babies, people groups(Baptist speak) that had never heard the good news. WOuld they go to eternal torment? No, God must have a way. Years of fear and wrangling.

 

Part of my deconversion, probably the biggest part, had to do with searching out the truth about Hell. I am still searching but have discovered that so much of the Bible doesn't hang together, that there is great hope in my heart that Hell is not real.

 

Still, I have some fear that I might be wrong. I have always been afraid of fire, for many reasons, but I'm just now realizing that the Hell stories may be part of it.

 

Waking Up

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1) When you were a xtian, did you fear hell a little or a lot?

(If you would describe yourself as **never** fearing hell, please explain. Did your church not believe in it or did you personally dismiss it?)

 

I had no fear of hell whatsoever.

Why?

Two words: German christianity. :fdevil:

 

Yeah we are all lukewarm over here... :lmao:

 

(In the mainstream that is... the Mor(m)ons or JW and other imported and homegrown small cults are another thing)

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1) When you were a xtian, did you fear hell a little or a lot?

 

A lot, more so for "unsaved' loved ones then myself.

 

 

 

2) What most contributed to your fear? Family, preaching (which brand), books, the bible or…?

 

The Ass (assembly) of God Church. Whacked out Pentecostal extremists. The Devil is always lurking to trip you up, and hell is always there waiting for non-believers and doubters. :Wendywhatever:

 

3) Did you resolve your fear of hell before or after de-conversion?

 

I'm going to have to go with during my deconversion. When I saw that Hell existed in most pagan beliefs and learned about hell from a Jewish perspective I knew it was a Lie. I no more believe in hell then I do the Egyptian underworld.

 

4) How many years after de-conversion did you feel momentary twangs of fear?

 

 

I fear death but not hell. Once I had an understanding about hell I no longer feared it.

 

 

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I used to have a lingering fear of hell after my deconversion. Now, my "feer'o hell" is the fact that people still teach that shit to their children and it's effects on the adult mind, also. :shrug:

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At a fairly early age I resolved to take my chances that any extant gods were basically decent and intelligent beings who wouldn't create such a nasty place.

 

 

I've never considered that. I guess we could argue that any god viscious enough to create hell for his own creations would probably not have the patience to send us there.

 

Perhaps a better argument would be that any god viscious enough to create hell could not possibly have created an salvation plan for anyone. In other words, if hell exists, we're all going there.

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I fear death but not hell. Once I had an understanding about hell I no longer feared it.

 

 

I'm not sure I understand. If you feel hell is fake than what is there to fear?

 

For me, the more I realize the implications of my atheism the more I fear not using up my time well. I know that death is the end and I want to make sure I take one last ride before the park closes.

 

The other night I went with my wife to see Gordon Lightfoot live. In the last few years I began to think of things I *must* do before the park closes. That was one of them.

 

I'm not old; I'm only 47.

 

I have about 15 mountains in the ADK-40 that I haven't hiked.

 

I love watching my kids grow.

 

I want to to a giant road trip accross North America.

 

I want to see Greece.

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1. I can say my fear of hell was moderate

 

2. What most contributed it was the preaching of hell of fire and brimstone. Saying that even good people go to hell. I questioned that in my mind but I stayed in check. My church was one of those types of places and they know the genuine Truth

 

3. I resolved hell in my deconversion, it is just as fake as God is

 

4. A month or two and life is great

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I fear death but not hell. Once I had an understanding about hell I no longer feared it.

 

 

I'm not sure I understand. If you feel hell is fake than what is there to fear?

 

Hell doesn't equal death so I'm at a loss as to why you're confused? I quite frankly can't understand how people don't have a fear of death.(??) *IF* anything, I believe we *might* come back as some other life force (Reincarnation) , either that or we just cease to ever exist again. I have no idea what comes after life if anything. I try not to focus on it as at one time I had major panic disorder about death. I've come along way. There are general fears about death that don't revolve around hell as shocking as that may seem? :Hmm:

 

For me, the more I realize the implications of my atheism the more I fear not using up my time well. I know that death is the end and I want to make sure I take one last ride before the park closes.

 

How do you "KNOW" that if you've never been dead? Fact is.. you don't "KNOW" your opinion is strong about it. You perhaps are comfortable in being concrete in about what doesn't exist, I wont ever know until I get there.

 

 

 

 

 

Edit to clarify.

 

After reading my answer, I don't want it construed that I believe hell "Might" exist. Hell was created by fear mongers to keep the people in line. Depending on the cult, pagan worship or branch of religion hell had different meanings. hell/ Hades/ Underworld was derived from sunworship, and I don't believe it nor heaven exists. I am however not a stage in my life or searching that I have arrived at a comfortable conclusion about what happens at death. I fear not being around to help my kids and keep them safe. I fear people close to me ceasing to exist. I fear how death occurs and every aspect of the dreadful part of life. I hope this clarifies to people who may at first capitalize on me not being clear enough at the start.

 

Thanks

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My fear of hell was debilitating and from my perspective now, I consider my indoctrination child abuse. I spent countless sleepless nights mulling over what an eternity must mean. I never felt secure in my salvation, so was in constant prayer for forgiveness and was frustrated at my inability to live a "holy" life. I shed bitter tears for my friends and those I didn't know, whom I believed to be condemned to an eternity of suffering. The degree with which this particular doctrine affected my youth probably explains why I hang around this site even though I've been deconverted and free from this fear for more than 10 years now.

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1.) When I first converted I guess it was alot. I would catch myself thinking a bad thought and go "Oops! I could go to hell for that!" Then I'd start repenting. I wasn't any particular denom of Christian, I was just kind of generic and had my own ideas.

 

2.) Society, I guess. Television, stories, articles, conversations...I was supposed to fear it so I did.

 

3.) After my de-conversion. That's when I got really serious about finding the true "God." Once I connected (to the feeling that I thought was God, I'm not sure anymore), I realized that hell could not ever exist and it was entirely a man-made construct to control people.

 

4.) I think for about a year or two but I've been totally fine ever since.

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1) When you were a xtian, did you fear hell a little or a lot?

 

Hmm... on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being utter sheer relentless terror, and 1 being no fear whatsoever, I was probably usually at about a 6 or so on hell... unless I thought about it too much, and then it fluctuated to an 8 or so.

 

Fear of hell was what got me converted in the first place, in the actual moment that it happened. Overall there were a number of reasons why I converted, but in the immediate moment of it, fear of hell was right there.

 

Later on I always had this vague sort of anxiety that I hadn't done the conversion "right" and that I'd missed something, and that I wasn't really a Christian even though I thought I was, so I worried a lot that I was going to hell anyway, and tried to be perfect. And I worried about my nonbelieving friends and family going to hell after they died too.

 

2) What most contributed to your fear? Family, preaching (which brand), books, the bible or…?

 

At the moment of conversion, it was some stupid Hal Lindsey book about the end times. Later, it was my mom, plus the denomination I was first in (Pentecostal here too, AoG!), plus probably just my own personality and what sunk in during Bible study.

 

3) Did you resolve your fear of hell before or after de-conversion?

 

During. Deconverting was a process and my fear of hell was eroded away during the whole process, along with everything else. Although I knew I'd reached a point where I no longer feared hell when I realized that I'd rather be there with my loved ones than in heaven with... well, initially with FundieBoy, but with any other asshole Xian anyway, and their sick, twisted deity.

 

FundieBoy was actually kind of crucial to my no longer fearing hell. I firmly felt after he was done with me that if being a Christian meant I had to be like him, I'd rather go to hell. And that I wouldn't want to go to any heaven that would let him in.

 

4) How many years after de-conversion did you feel momentary twangs of fear?

 

I'm not sure. Maybe a year or two. I suppose I could get myself worked up about it again even today, but for the most part it's not important anymore.

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As a believer, I never feared hell for myself. I trusted my Jesus. Hell was not a possibility for me.

 

I feared it for everyone else who didn't know my Jesus.

 

In 25 years, I went to several different denominations of churches. (AOG, Non-denom, and even a short stint with Lutheran)

 

My last was southern baptist. The pastor there was obsessed with hell. And trying to convince the congregation that some of them were not going to make it heaven.

 

That dickhead was instrumental in my first timid steps towards deconversion.

 

Thanks, pastor. Much appreciated. (seriously)..

 

My siggie line will tell you how much I fear hell now.

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1) When you were a xtian, did you fear hell a little or a lot?

(If you would describe yourself as **never** fearing hell, please explain. Did your church not believe in it or did you personally dismiss it?)

 

I feared hell ALOT. It was the reason I joined church in the first place. Who wants to goto a place of eternal fire and damnation...

 

2) What most contributed to your fear? Family, preaching (which brand), books, the bible or…?

 

All of the above...

 

Before I was "saved" my family told me that if I didn't accept Christ's love and Free gift that on the day the trumpet blew God would not remember me and I would be left to suffer and die.

 

Granted, I no longer believe in it. However, if I did, considering that I hate all of my family members being in a place completely seperate from them would be a blessing. :)

 

Back on topic....

 

Of course the preachers(I grew up southern baptist) made Satan into a rock star. He was the topic of everything...

And, of course, the BABBLE. I read revelations over and over and prayed OVER and OVER that I wouldn't end up in eternal flame.

 

3) Did you resolve your fear of hell before or after de-conversion?

 

 

After. I have no belief in it whatsoever, anymore. Granted, I still have the occasional fear of "utter seperation from GAWD." but I've decided to worry about my fate when I'm dead. I have a life to lead and I'm tired of being scared.

 

4) How many years after de-conversion did you feel momentary twangs of fear?

 

I'm a recent deconvert. So I still feel them, occasionally...But I am better than I used to be! that's for sure. :woohoo:

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After. I have no belief in it whatsoever, anymore. Granted, I still have the occasional fear of "utter seperation from GAWD." but I've decided to worry about my fate when I'm dead. I have a life to lead and I'm tired of being scared.

 

4) How many years after de-conversion did you feel momentary twangs of fear?

 

I'm a recent deconvert. So I still feel them, occasionally...But I am better than I used to be! that's for sure. :woohoo:

 

LMR, I like your attitude. I'm glad you got out. Congratulations and best wishes as you continue to "fight your demons" literally lol.

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1) When you were a xtian, did you fear hell a little or a lot?

 

A little; our Lutheran church emphasized a loving God so any mention of hell was always in the vein of "but WE don't have to worry!"

 

2) What most contributed to your fear? Family, preaching (which brand), books, the bible or…?

 

Lutheran (LCMS) preaching. It wasn't preached a whole lot, but the digs were there, just to keep us on the 'straight and narrow.'

 

3) Did you resolve your fear of hell before or after de-conversion?

 

Before, I think. I guess I figured that if I decided that I had made a mistake, I could always just ask Jesus to forgive me.

 

4) How many years after de-conversion did you feel momentary twangs of fear?

 

Once or twice in the 2-3 years after. Along the lines of 'what if they ARE right?' To which I'd answer: Then I'm goin' to hell! Heaven was never a great incentive to me to begin with.

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My parents were and still are hard core, militant "Sword of the Lord", fundamentalist Baptists. Yes, while I was being indoctrinated, brainwashed, in the 70s, those preachers did everything they could to make me afraid of hell. It worked to an extent. There were this little tracts with pictures of people chained together and falling through a buring void. I was a little afraid, but the rapture scared me more. It is rather strange now to think of being afraid of people suddenly disappearing,but I was! If I were in a store with my parents and couldn't find them temporarily, I would think the rapture could have happened! Amazing the extent to which this mental virus of fundi xianity and sheer fantasy can take root in one's brain.

 

Eventually I rooted every trace of this Hell foolishness out of my mind by constant self-inquiry. My advice is do whatever it takes to remove this posion. Otherwise, you are always living in fear. This is what x-ianity wants you to do, so you can be controlled and exploited.

 

Pat

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1. and 2. I was afraid of hell always in true Christian belief because it was nailed into my head since I was a kid. Ever since I was a small kid I leanred that if you weren't a Christian you went to Hell when you died. I did believe in Jesus in my 10-14 pre-teen to teen years but I never became formally saved snd never became a member of the church I went to and today I'm happy I never became a member. I believed but I just couldn't put myself to getting saved, I'd rather do nothing and stay the way I was though I believed. I remember waiting and waiting and waiting as a kid to feel lost like I was told I would at church continually until I thought I finally was a few times bt I was jst confused and brainwashed. As I get into high school I quit thinking about Hell and Heaven, I believed in God but only because I didn't realize the options of religious belief. I was really pressured to believe in Jesus in those high school years by people at the church I attended. I would've quit going to church in high school if not for my parents making me. One elderly woman, wanted me to get saved so bad, she claimed God had been talking to her since the early pre-dawn hours wanting me to be saved. I didn't want to as I'd rather convert to a better religion at the time and just said the Save Me Jesus words cause no one bod would leave me alone if I didn't. I didn't feel any better or worse when I said those words which was probably the beginning of my true disbelief in God and religion. My Dad then drove me to the preacher of the church's house where I was continually asked where I would go when I died and I didn't want to fall into the pressure of being saved qand was continually asked where I would go when I died and I kept replying Heaven. I remember thinking to myself I'd probably go to Hell if I died now.

3. I resolved my fear of hell shortly after deconversion. I haqd little temptations to go back but as time grew Imy fear of the afterlife faded. Now I'm not afraid of death, if I die it's just fading into non-existence.

4. About the 6 months after deconversion I had small twangs, not ones that tormented me all the time.

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