"All Right, Then, I'll Go To Hell."

Some days--and these are very, very few--I wish I could Tweet.

If I could Tweet I'd Tweet Rachel Held Evan's post today--"All right, then, I'll go to hell."

My hunch is that a lot of you follow both our blogs and you've already read Rachel's post, but if you haven't it's an awesome piece. The center of the post are Huck's moral reflections about Jim, but this part of Rachel's post...
I often think about Huck’s resolution when I am told by religious leaders that “the Bible is clear” on this or that, and that I’ve got to stop listening to those gut feelings that tell me maybe we’ve gotten a few things wrong, that maybe there’s more to the story than we’re ready to see.

“Your feelings don’t matter,” they say.

“Your feelings cannot be trusted,” they say.

“Once you start listening to your feelings, over and beyond the plain meaning of Scripture, it’s a slippery slope to hell,” they say.
 ...reminded me of my post last week about Orthodox Alexithymia.

Here's praying that we all follow Huck and think up something worse to do.

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11 thoughts on “"All Right, Then, I'll Go To Hell."”

  1. My wife and I had a long discussion about this Mark Twain passage just last week!  I am willing to go through hell to stand up for my LGBT friends.  I feel greatly convicted that this is the right thing to do. My question is, if I feel that the Holy Spirit has put this on my heart and my fundamentalist friend swears that The Spirit has put the exact opposite on his heart; is one of us wrong?

  2. Those who believe that so many (majority) are going to hell are probably, in fact, already there in the place they've imagined/created for others.

    "Your feelings don't matter...can't be trusted."  Yes, that does remind me of the Orthodox Alexithymia post.

  3. I often think about Huck's resolution as well. I mean, who wouldn't? The question makes perfect sense, where are my loved ones going? If it's to the bad place, then the bad place it is for all of us.
    Actually, I think it is exactly that sentiment that is at the center of the doctrine of Christ's descent into Hades :)

  4. Good post. Huck had to do what he had to do. So do we! It takes great courage to live authentically. We will inevitably lose something socially if we choose to live authentic lives, but what we gain personally is so much more rewarding!

  5. You have just described the dilemma that Richard talks about in Orthodox Alexithymia. You want to have “right doctrine” but your feelings tell you otherwise. I think the point of the article was to encourage Christians to examine their feelings about theological matters more, rather than ignore them or repress them. What are your feelings telling you?
    I don’t like “the Holy Spirit has put this on my heart” statements. Frankly, I am not sure how the Spirit works, are you? I think people use that phrase often times to avoid their feelings or take any ownership of them. It’s the reverse of “the devil made me do it” to “the Spirit made me feel this way.” If I add, “the Spirit placed this on my heart” it serves as a trump card.
    Ultimately, you will have to live your life with joy and a commitment to Christ as YOU have come to “feel” and “understand” is right. I have to too.

  6. Thanks, Kevin,

    You're completely right.  I guess I don't like "Holy Spirit put this on my heart" statements either and I really have no clue how the Spirit works.  I think I've felt it, but there's no way for me to articulate that. But you're right, "the Spirit made me feel this way" is a lazy ownership avoidance tactic. 

    I guess what I was trying to say is that I have come to the place that I am at through much prayer, Bible study, sleepless nights, tears, and frustration.  It sure hasn't been easy.  What is totally frustrating is when I am told that if I would just pray and study, I will feel compelled to agree with someone. What sort of "personal relationship with Christ" is that?  I may find out that I am wrong in the end, but I am at peace with that and enjoy a comfort that this wrestling has given me greater joy in my commitment to Christ.

    Is there anything to be learned about this feelings and conviction business when Paul discusses meat sacrificed to idols in 1 Corinthians?  I think sometimes we forget that a personal relationship with Christ is, well, personal.

    Thanks again, Kevin. Your words were encouraging and helpful.

  7. Well, except Huck sincerely thought he was going to hell, and Evans thinks exactly the opposite. Huck was willing to get dirty to help his friend, and Evans is staying clean by helping hers. I think there's a significant difference there. One's a win-lose, the other's a win-win. I suspect that in Evans's world, you can always win. And that strikes me as unlikely.

  8. There is a big, big difference between "fine, I'll go to hell" and "I'll do this good and right thing that some people incorrectly believe will send me to hell."  

    Rachel, in performing the inclusive communion ceremony, is not doing anything that she believes will genuinely damn her.  In fact, she is doing the opposite - doing something that she believes will bring blessing and salvation to herself and others.  

    If "sin" is seen as spiritually soiling, Rachel is not doing anything she believes will soil herself.  She is doing something she believes is part of having a clean, healthy, whole and moral soul.  

    The closest modern equivalent I can think of to Huck's decision is the rare, sad case of a parent who believes that they must murder their children while the children are still "innocent" so that the children can go to heaven, even though the parent knows this act of murder will ensure their own damnation.  An act that is just as morally reprehensible as Huck believed protecting Jim to be, and an act that is done out of profound (if profoundly misguided) love.  

    Huck's community, church, and governing legal system will condemn him for his self-sacrifice as much as our modern community, church and legal system condemns a parent who murders their child so that the child will die "innocent." And Huck agrees with that damnation, as much as a parent who murders their child to let them die "innocent" and go to heaven agrees that they they deserve damnation for being unrepentant murderers - nothing will make them believe that they should have let their beloved children risk damnation in order to protect themself. 

    When we look at Huck's story and smile knowingly, because we are certain that Huck will not be damned for his choice, we strip Huck's choice of its profound power.  There may be no greater love than to lay down your life for a friend.  

    And Huck was willing to lay down not just his life, but his immortal soul to give his friend just a few brief years of happiness in life.  

    Because Huck, in believing that he will be damned for helping Jim run away, also believed that Jim will be damned for running away, but that Jim might be saved if he is returned to his owner and lives in a correctly obedient way. Huck is not accepting damnation to save others from damnation, he's accepting eternal damnation for the very limited benefit of Jim having a few years or decades of living "free" but on the run, in constant fear of being recaptured and punished.  Together, they will be criminals on the run and in hiding, and then burning together in hell.  

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