Not too long ago, I remodeled my kitchen. Today, a young man came to my house to finish up some punch list items. He and I got to talking and he told me when he was nineteen he went to Russia for a couple years for a ministry opportunity.
Now, many people may not know this, but I was raised in a Mormon church, and when he told me that he went to another country when he was nineteen for a couple years and it was ministry related, it wasn’t a stretch to conclude that this guy was very likely Mormon. So I asked him and he said yes.
So we talked awhile and I told him that I too had gone on a mission trip to Russia, just not for as long. We discussed our different perspectives concerning Russian culture and different things involving faith.
Now, I know a bit about the Mormon faith, and I know what I believe. Many people would be apprehensive to talk to a Mormon, but I am not. I know where I stand and my faith is firm.
In talking with this young man, I heard a lot of things that I can relate to and agree with. Typically when dealing with Mormons, they go straight for the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, but he understand that’s not going to get the response he is looking for in the South. We talked a lot and he and I agreed on a good many things.
One thing in particular he stated that stuck with me was something he said about hell. He said that there are a lot of different thoughts involving hell and that likely he, as a Mormon, may see it differently. He saw hell not so much as a place of punishment for sin, but a place of mercy for sinners.
Now, before you discount this line of thinking, hear me out.
There are some people that teach hell is a real, physical place. There are some that teach it is nothing more than a state of eternal separation from God. Some even suggest it is a planet or a different dimension or plane of existance. Either way you look at it, it is literally a separation from God, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, or some combination of these.
For those who know God, and love God, to be separated from Him for eternity would be a type of hell or punishment. That is understandable. But what this young man suggested is that it would be an act of mercy to banish someone from His presence for eternity than for that person to be forever in His presence, burdened with that guilt of his or her sin without atonement.
To be in the presence of God is to understand His holiness, and if our sins have no atonement, nothing remains but guilt and shame. It would be hell to be eternally in the presence of a Being whose mere existence is a constant reminder of our sin and the hopelessness of that sin ever being atoned for. It would actually be an act of mercy to be separated from Him for eternity if that was the case.
Now, I’m not preaching a new doctrine or even altering my belief system for this concept, but it is definitely an interesting point of view. I believe anything that gives us a glimpse into the eternal, or a peak into something greater, is a good thing. I’m not asking anyone to change themselves for this thought, I just wanted to present possibly a new perspective to an old concept.