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How do I stop being afraid of going to hell?

By ClayBlack ~

I'm not quite an ex-Christian yet, but I've been having serious doubts and the one thing stopping me is the fear that if I stop trusting in Jesus, then I will go to hell. I'm hoping that people who have felt the same see this post and are able to give me some advice.

I was raised in a Christian home and passionately pursued the faith from the age of 12 up until a few months ago (I'm 23 now) when I started having serious doubts. Two years ago, I moved out of my parent's house and have been exposed to more secular environments. My husband (I moved out when I got married) says I've become a more optimistic and confident person since I left my highly religious parents home.

I love listening to philosophers and debates on Youtube, and have found that many people arguing for Christianity use this argument based on Romans 1:20: "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from His workmanship, so that men are without excuse." Meaning that they think everybody knows that God exists therefore he does, and if we don't believe in him, it is rejection and we only have ourselves to blame if we end up in hell.

I'm struggling with this because I don't feel as if I actually know that God exists. I think, 'Surely he would make himself more real and tangible to us and not play a sick game where we pray to him to reveal himself, and he doesn't.'

Hell, human depravity, and eternal punishment are concepts I find irrational. But because I grew up with conservative, fundamentalist Christian parents, I was heavily indoctrinated with these teachings. I don't think God can be loving if he creates people just to send them to hell, and threatening people with the eternal torture if you don't believe on them seems like a massive interference on free will.

I'd love to stop believing this but my mind keeps asking, 'What if you die tomorrow and go to hell? What if you wake up before God and he's mad at you because you questioned his authority to send people to heaven or hell or wherever he likes?'

I know to some that will sound silly. Up until recently, I honestly believe that I had a revelation of God as a teenager, that he wanted to pursue a relationship with me. But now I think it was just excitement from going to youth group for the first time.

It's weird; my parents are quite conservative but most of my life, we attended a church a lot more liberal than my parents were used to. It's given me lifelong friends, and I think if I were to stop believing, they would still embrace me, and not reject me like some in the more conservative churches do. My closest Christian friends know that I'm going through a "crisis of faith" at the moment, but they don't realise how serious it is. And they wouldn't understand if i spoke to them about it in detail.

Ex-Christians, what advice would you give me?