Nothing frightens Caribbean people who have come under the influence of Protestant Pentecostalism as much as the thought of roasting forever in Hell.However we look at it, whatever or where ever Hell is situated ( no one seems to know for certain) we all are certain about one thing; we do not want to go there. The strange thing, though,is that getting to Hell is far easier than getting into Heaven, believed to be located somewhere deep in the sky.In order to get to Heaven, one must struggle feverishly to suppress nearly all desires native to human interest, pleasure and passion.
The things that may keep the human soul out of Heaven and damn that soul to Hell for all eternity have been altered dramatically over the decades, making it increasingly easier, it would appear,with each passing century, to enter the kingdom of Heaven. For instance, there was a time when women who wore trousers would have been considered doomed for all eternity. This, in most religious circles, is no longer the case. Going to the movie theater has also, it appears, slipped from the list of forbidden sins that could once damn the soul. With each passing decade other sinful practices are moving along the conveyor belt toward elimination from the list of of sins that may bar us from the kingdom in the sky.
Some things surely will remain on the list of sins for decades longer than others, or will simply be ignored by the morality-police of the religious right: the smoking of tobacco or marijuana,the drinking of alcohol, dancing in the street to the pulsating rhythm of the road-march tune during the Caribbean Carnival and sexual intercourse before marriage ( sex before marriage appears to particularly bother God more than most other things, if we judged by the way "born again" Christians react to the discovery of its occurrence among the church membership) and the tolerance of homosexuals.
Hell is a punishment for wrong or sins, and sin is a condition which none of us sought after for ourselves, but one which was imposed upon us from the moment we were issued with a soul at some point in our mother's stomach.... or before that, no one is certain.In other words, one does not have to actually do wrong to be guilty of doing wrong. We are guilty of doing wrong because, according to the Bible, the first man and women who lived on the planet did that wrong for us. So, we are guilty of the wrong they did before we were even conceived.This is supposed to be seen as reasonable and acceptable to the minds of rational people., as one of the things we are expected to do when we become believers is to suspend all inclination to make rational, logical sense of the teachings of the church, because it is strictly a faith issue, and we are not to lean on our own understanding at this juncture ( we can always resort to being rational again later when dealing with earthly matters) They tell us this is because great is the mystery of godliness and because God uses the foolishness of the gospel to confound the wisdom of men.
According to the teachings of the Bible, an innocent child is born an already condemned creature. The child is born a vile sinner, a filthy wretch who is grudgingly(it appears) permitted to swing along on borrowed grace until he arrives at about age five, six or some say seven years old when he becomes "accountable", and it does not matter how well behaved he is, he is still a wretch that must be washed in the blood of Jesus for the remission of his sins, for all our goodness is as filthy rags, all our goodness of course except the goodness of putting our monies into the offering plate.
The safest way to ensure one's entry into heaven is to die the moment we become "born again".If one does not die immediately after accepting Jesus as Lord and personal savior, one's chance of making it into Heaven immediately begins to becomes increasingly precarious because of the billions of temptations that instantly begin bombarding one's natural instincts.Of course one is assured by his Minister that Jesus is able to "save and keep", but at the same time the newly "saved" still bears much of the onus for keeping himself from the temptations that are everywhere, including those which are part of his basic human nature; the things that make him human.
The most strange thing about the message of salvation is it's propensity to be unjust in its equitable distribution of reward and punishment. A murderous, muscular man, for instance, may leave his home and descend on the dark alleys to rape , rob and plunder. He attends a born again preaching Revival Service and hears a message about God's love, mercy and forgiveness.He is deeply convicted and genuinely repents of the murders, rapes and robberies he has committed over the years. Immediately after his sincere penitence, the roof collapses and he is killed. According to the teachings of the Bible, that man has gone straight to the kingdom of heaven as long as his repentance was deemed sincere by God.
Another man has been good: he has fed the hungry, aided the destitute, been kind helpful and generous. He attends the same camp meeting under the tent, but he walks away from the invitation because he cannot find himself believeing what the preacher said. The roof caves in on him and he dies. He goes to Hell for all eternity to burn with some of the most evil, murderous men who ever walked the planet,and for what?
Simply because He did not believe.
Observe the young Christian girl who has served her Lord well for many years. If she is found thinking even the smallest,lustful or unholy thought when Jesus comes blasting through the sky on his secret second coming, she is doomed without the slightest consideration of her many yeas of faithful, committed service to her Lord.
The amazing thing is that people who are otherwise intelligent and thoughtful about other matters find reason to accept and pass on such teachings to their children.Intelligent people suspend their common sense and accept things they would otherwise dismiss as being blatantly flawed thinking, because we are taught that we will never be able to understand the ways of God.They are unable to think that there is something wrong with this type of irrational thinking.