The 8th circle of Hell as described by Dante is reserved for those who seek to divide the church.
Kevin Miller is hardly a household name amongst Evangelicals, but many of us are familiar with his work on films such as Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed starring Ben Stein; the Anti-Christian Zionist rant With God on Our Side; and domestic human trafficking exposé Sex+Money: A National Search for Human Worth. These, along with his other films has given him access to numerous prominent evangelical circles, yet these evangelical circles would likely object to his unorthodox views that a God who would send people to hell is very similar to Aurora shooter James Holmes.
In a recent article in the Huffington Post, Kevin Miller blasted Jerry Newcombe, spokesperson for Truth in Action Ministries, for his statements following Aurora, Colorado shooting. In the offending statements, Jerry argued that the rejection of God and the belief in Hell is partially to blame for the barbaric acts of James Holmes. Additionally, Jerry truthfully noted, “if a person doesn’t know Jesus Christ or if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then, basically, they are going to a terrible place.”
The reason for Kevin’s outrage is that Kevin himself has rejected the reality of Hell. In his upcoming film Hellbound?, Kevin explores the different viewpoints on Hell. While the trailer is intentionally vague about where Kevin stands on the matter, the rousing endorsements by professed hell deniers Frankie Schaeffer and Brian McLaren leave no doubt.
Kevin feels compelled to not simply rebuke Jerry Newcombe for his unpopular, albeit true, comments about the eternal state of those who reject God. Kevin argues, if you believe in a God who will sends people to hell, than your God is no different than mass murderer James Holmes. Kevin writes,
“[Jerry’s] devotion to his worldview [that people who reject Jesus go to Hell] has blinded him to the glaring similarity between the god he worships and James Eagan Holmes. At some point a few months ago, Holmes determined that certain people were simply beyond redemption. And then, tragically, he took what he regarded as appropriate action. If you think about it, Jerry is arguing that one day his god will essentially do the same thing.”
What underlies Kevin’s rejection of Hell is twofold. First it is a misunderstanding of the nature of God’s relationship with humanity and secondly, a misunderstanding of the Christ and the revelation of God in the Old Testament. Kevin argues,
“Read passages like 1 Corinthians 13, which says that love is not easily angered, that it keeps no record of wrongs and that it always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. And then explain to me how, in the light of such teachings, you can justify your belief in an angry, wrathful God who will one day dispatch all of his enemies to a fiery eternity in hell.”
The simple explanation is this: true love demands true choice. True love accepts the position whereby the object of that love can choose to reciprocate or reject the love that is offered. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden is one of the many examples of God’s Love. God placed the Tree in the garden as a means by which Adam and Eve could have a legitimate choice. The choice given to the first family is given to each of us. Will we choose to accept the Love of God that has been offered through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ? God will woo, but not force his love upon us.
Kevin’s appeal to 1 Corinthians seems more rhetorical than the actual source of his objection to hell. In the comments following his article Kevin reveals his view of Christ and God in the Old Testament. Writing in response to a commenter who says, “If you believe in god…and think he is described in the bible, who is worse than a man ought to be, you should reject and despise that god.” Kevin writes,
“If you’re going to take what the Bible says literally (specifically the Old Testament), then I agree with you. However, that’s precisely the wrong way to read the text. Jesus claims that he who has seen him has seen the Father (God). Therefore, God is like Jesus. And Jesus is nothing like the God we see portrayed in many Old Testament passages. So what are we to make of this? In my view, what Jesus was trying to tell us is that although the Scriptures testify about him, they also testify to how humanity will use anything-including God- to sanction their violence. This is precisely the sort of thinking Jesus can to free us from.”
It is an this point that Kevin has embraced the Marcion Heresy. In the middle part of the second century Marcion of Sinope, argued that while Jesus was sent by God as savior, the God of the Old Testament was an all-together separate and lower god. Declared a heretic by many of the church fathers and especially Tertullian who wrote a five volume response, Marcion is widely recognized as a significant figure in the early gnostic church.
True Christian orthodoxy rejects the dualism of Marcion and recognizes that God in the Old Testament and the incarnation of God–Jesus in the New Testament are same Being in essence and nature. To reject the God-ordained violence found in Old Testament is to reject of the true nature of human sinfulness and God’s holiness. Jesus acknowledges that he is to take upon himself the sin of the whole world and that would mean his death. If sin was not so ruinous would there not have been another means of our salvation? It is our darkness-craving sin that makes God our enemy and it is because of His love that God does not force those who hate him to spend eternity with him.
Like so many other contentious theological issues, ones understanding of Hell is coupled with ones understanding of human nature and God’s nature. A rejection of Hell makes human nature just a little flawed, human sin just a mere blemish, and God just a mildly displeased grandfather strangely resembling Morgan Freeman. In rejecting Hell, Kevin does not simply deny the depravity of humanity, even worse he denies the holiness of God. In light of the full revelation of scripture, both red and black, that is a dreadful place to be.