This is a paraphrase of a sentence discussing the late Cardinal Avery Dulles who, “warned that a ‘thoughtless optimism’ about salvation had become a serious problem.” I found it in a wonderful article by J. Peter Nixon at USCatholic.org.
In the article, Nixon traces the Catholic push and pull over hell. At various times, hell was the ultimate hammer over the heads of the Catholic flock.
Then, there were periods when it was noted the Bible never really identifies anyone who is in hell. In these periods the faithful were encouraged to look not at the God figure so much as the Jesus one. And, with Jesus, not the cranky saber rattling one and but the forgiving version.
And so it goes in the Protestant branch of the faith as well. There are factions who want sin followed by hell to be the main message and others who choose a hell-lite version.
So which phase are we in, the hot hell or hell-lite version? It seems like the hell-lite version is gaining just now. Even though the current Pope and the largest denomination of Protestants, the Southern Baptist Convention, are on the sin-hell team, growth seems on the other side.
If secular people, who do not think there is either a hell or a heaven, were in the bleachers watching this game, who should they cheer for? I’d say the burning-in-hell team.
It turns off young people.