This may well be my season of testing. After writing my previous blog about turning away an established client who was asking me to write deceptive advertising, I received a request from a Christian author to edit his book. I am listed on a well-known freelance website, and get much of my business from it. How he actually found me is a mystery, because he said he chose to contact me because he saw my Christian book and editorial background, and thought I’d be right for the job. I am not listed as “Christian” or a book author. It just happens to be in my profile and there are hundreds of providers like me.
Once again, I welcomed this potential new client with thanksgiving to God. In fact, he was in the process of writing a series, so this could be ongoing work. And, how I love to get my hands on Christian writing, to till and cultivate it until it is ripe and ready for publication!
The author and I had a phone conversation and he warned me that some of his content was controversial. In fact, he said that several reviewers of his content had had reservations. But he was convinced that he was on the right track, because he had spent hours in prayer over this, as well as hours of research.
My curiosity was piqued. What he told me of the content seemed benign enough. His intent was to help people focus more on God’s love than on His wrath and hell itself. He said that he had been spurred to do the book by hearing a pastor state in a sermon that the number one reason why he wanted to go to heaven was that he didn’t want to go to hell. My client thought that such an admonition was tragic–it was understandable that fear of hell might be #15 on his list, but #1? Something was wrong.
I agreed. Perhaps the pastor had not really developed the love relationship with God that would give him an earnest longing to be in heaven with his Creator. As we spoke, I wondered exactly what could be so controversial in the author’s book. He told me he would send me the first chapter, because it was by far the most controversial part.
When I received it last night, I sat down and gave it a good read. Red flags rose up within a few pages. In the first chapter, he was disproving the existence of hell.
Now, before I go further, let me state that I do not wish to be demeaning to this author, because he honored me by allowing me to read his copy which he has labored over. As an author myself, I understand the blood, sweat and tears that go into birthing a book. (And also the incredible joy.) However, as Christians, we must know the word of God and use it accurately, and if we read information that is truly contrary to God’s word, we must stand and be heard: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
Quite honestly, disproving the existence of hell is the doctrine of demons. This is Satan’s agenda: to make us believe that hell does not exist, so there’s really nothing to fear. Or, his parallel agenda: to make God look like the bad guy who throws innocent people into the lake of fire. Yet there is reference after reference about hell in the Bible. The Greek word “Geenna” means “hell” and is found 12 times in the Synoptic Gospels, 11 of which are spoken by Jesus himself.
Jesus said that in the end times, many people would be misled. Many people, including the author, have very sincere, heartfelt intentions. This author truly wants people to focus on God’s love. But as I told him in an email, we must have an equal amount of fear of God as we have love for God. If we have more fear than love of God, then we are compelled to obey Him because we are afraid, but miss out on the incredible love relationship with Him that He so desires to have with us. But if we have more love for Him than fear, we risk putting Him in a pretty little box and not revering and fearing Him for His awesome holiness, justice and intolerance of evil.
The frightening thing is that if this author goes forward with this line of thinking in his book, he could do a huge misservice to his readers, and potentially lead them over the cliff into the place they believed didn’t exist. I would never, ever want to have that kind of guilt on my head.
So, as you might expect, I had to turn away this potential client as well. I don’t know if this was another test, or that God was using me to speak against this doctrine. Whatever the case, I would admonish all Christians to read scripture every day–eat it, as Isaiah did. Let it become part of your body. Because the devil is more crafty than you would ever imagine. And he will try to mislead even you. But if you have eaten God’s word on a daily basis, your body, soul and spirit will know poison when it is offered to you and you will recoil.
Praise be to God.