There is no doubt that relevatism is alive and well and the entire concept of truth is up for grabs. I don’t think relativism is any stronger here in the UK, where I currently live, than it is in the US. But in the US there is still an ardent belief that ‘right’ beliefs and conservative beliefs are still the rudder for the country (which anyone with a pulse can see is no longer the case).

Lately I’m struck with the number of convenient things that I(we) believe. One that has especially jumped out to me is in regards to what people think about the afterlife. Most people, if gently pressed, will agree there is an afterlife. More and more people are inclined to think though that an ‘afterlife’ is pretty much limited to ‘heaven’ or a ‘better place’ than this. Even when pressed most people can’t tell you what they think ‘heaven’ will be like or even tell with any accuracy at all what the Bible says about ‘heaven’ (here’s a hint, it doesn’t say much and doesn’t say anything about it in the way that we think it does).

Not that I want churches to preach on this more. If churches teach drag_me_to_hellon the afterlife, it’s almost exclusively about ‘eternal life’ in ‘heaven’ and ‘receiving our reward’ (thanks Joel Osteen) where what is mostly said is regard to the kingdom of heaven coming on earth. But most churches won’t even talk, preach, discuss the concept of hell anymore…in some ways this is a great move because we can’t be selling fire insurance, can we? I think one of the significant reasons why the concept and reality of ‘hell’ as a place and eternal destination is not in our thinking, conversations, preaching, and churches is because there is a recognition that people in the 21st century don’t respond to such messages (I know I wouldn’t if I was not a Christian). NT Wright says that hell as a concept and belief started to dissapate shortly after the first World War because believers saw so much ‘hell on earth’ during the war that it begun difficult to believe in a place like that in the afterlife.

According to one website (I need to research this more effectively) 93% of the American population believes in heaven, but the only 39% of people believe in hell and even then ‘hell’ is more of a conceptual idea that represents separation from God not an actual place. This doesn’t honestly sound that far off from what I know to be true based on personal experience and interaction with people I know.

So hell is not something people, even Christians, generally believe in anymore. Unless it makes for a great horror movies. In the last month, a movie called Drag Me To Hell has been released in the US and the UK.
The movie is about a woman named Christine who has a great job as a loan officer, she has a boyfriend, life is good. Until a ‘gypsy’ comes in and Christine denies her a loan. As the ‘gypsy’ leaves the appointment she curses Christine with ‘Lamia’ a spirit who is intent on draggin her to hell.

Aside from the theological issues with the idea of a spirit being able to drag someone to hell and that that is how ‘Christine’ is deemed ‘hell-worthy’…it is very interesting to me that the theological concept and belief of hell is largely disavowed by non-Christians and Christians a like, but it is still embraced by Hollywood when it makes for a good movie. And apparently horror meister Sam Raimi embraced his vision of hell well enough to make for a great horror movie as it is receiving great reviews from critics and viewers alike.

I sincerely hope that churches around the world aren’t taking the release of this new movie to do a ‘Drag Me To Hell’ night like all the lame ‘Da Vinci Code’ sermon series. The church and Christians have already done enough bad movies ourselves with ‘Thief in the Night’ and the ‘Left Behind’ movies to have lost our rights on this one.

But it doesn provide Christians with some interesting insight about people in our community doesn’t it. People generally don’t believe in hell anymore, but are willing to believe in it just enough to have a movie ‘scare the hell out of them’? Viewers conveniently check any beliefs about the afterlife and, specifically, hell at the door just long enough to have a good scream.