As a former fundamentalist Pentecostal preacher I struggled daily with a crazy situation. I had been preaching for four years and had a ministry which I shared with the public on the streets on the weekends and with other churches by invitation. I was becoming quite well known in the Christian community, but at the same time I was beginning to question many aspects of my faith.
The bible teaches that as a believer you are to fear the Lord in Matthew 10:28 28 'Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” (NJB). There are many threats like this throughout the entire bible and it is these very threats that kept me hanging on to my faith as long as I did. You see fear is the driving force behind Christianity especially fundamentalist groups. They constantly remind you about the consequences of doubt and backsliding as they like to call those that turn their back on the faith.
During those days I was a literalist, and so the threat of hell was not allegorical but rather a very real threat for me. Back then I did not even dare think why a loving god would even create a hell or permit such an inhumane form of punishment for someone not believing in his existence or just living their lives to the fullest without God. As an atheist I demand proof of the existence of God especially when there are believers trying to influence the U.S. government to make this evil deity’s commandments the law of the land.
27 There is left only the dreadful prospect of judgement and of the fiery wrath that is to devour your enemies.
28 Anyone who disregards the Law of Moses is ruthlessly put to death on the word of two witnesses or three;
29 and you may be sure that anyone who tramples on the Son of God, and who treats the blood of the covenant which sanctified him as if it were not holy, and who insults the Spirit of grace, will be condemned to a far severer punishment. (NJB)
After having read the bible in its entirety and having researched as much as I could regarding the scriptures, I became convinced that not only was the bible not true but that it was a work of fiction. I realized after reading my way through the O.T. that this God was far from loving. The bible is full of tales of this “loving” monster and his so called mercy. The biblical God has been the cause of more tragedy and death and destruction according to the tales of the bible itself. God is far from good, and judging by the standards of men he is no better than Hitler, Stalin, or Mao put together.
This goes to prove once again that Christians don’t read the bible they profess to believe in, and when they do they just ignore what they choose to deny. How can anyone call God good after reading the Old Testament? And even after reading the O.T. the N.T. doesn’t make God look any better. The N.T. has God punishing people with eternal torment in a hell he created for such silly things as not believing in him. In fact, living a life without God is a sin no matter how good of a life you live here on earth. This is what is referred to as coercion through fear and is not what you would expect from a loving god.
Man has many fears, but what fear is greater than the fear of death? Man has been searching for the fountain of youth from time immemorial and has been trying to find ways to prolong life as long as they can. The bible promises eternal life to all those that believe and live their lives according to God's good will. And then to sweeten the pie you are promised a whole bunch of imaginary door prizes for worshiping God and committing your life to him.
The fear of death is made much worse through Christianity through the use of threats of eternal torments that will follow you even after death. Christians believe that they will be resurrected to eternal life and live a perfect existence in the presence of the Lord forever and ever and ever. Now if you ask me, that is worst than hell.
My greatest fear is eternal life in a heavenly realm stroking God's great big ego and telling him how great and wonderful he is. All of this knowing that in all reality if he did exist and if what the bible says he said and did is true would actually make this deity a cruel, vindictive, and maniacal devil. Before I bow down to an eternal dictator I would much rather suffer the torments and flames of the imaginary hell.