Is Nana Really Burning In Hell Right Now?


Today we remember Nana.

Nana was a sweet lady.

She adored her grandkids, loved hosting big family gatherings on Sunday afternoons, and always looked forward to her Tuesday mornings preparing breakfast for the residents at the Rescue Mission. She was a devoted wife of 48 years, a cherished friend, and a kind presence in the world. She leaves a heartily laugh, a gentle disposition, and a wonderful, tender legacy to those she’s left behind.

And according to many Christians, Nana is also suffering in eternal, fiery torment right now.

You see, Nana wasn’t “saved”—and so Nana is in Hell.

Oh sure, she lived a life fully marked by love and forgiveness and mercy, and even though everyone who brushed up against her came away with the sweet, unmistakable perfume of goodness, she never prayed the Sinner’s Prayer and well, that pretty much voids out all of that other good stuff, or so the orthodox Christian thinking goes.

Throughout her life Nana never had much use for church. She grew-up believing in God in a “big picture” way, but organized religion never meant much to her and she avoided it like expired meat and paying retail. Nana was never baptized and she certainly didn’t answer any altar call. She just tried to treat others the way she wanted to be treated and to make the world a better place while she was in it. Nana was a live and let live kind of lady.

Too bad she’s now treading water in a lake of fire, weeping and gnashing her teeth, and generally having an indescribably horrific afterlife.

Is this really what we believe, Christians?

Is this really what you believe?

I don’t mean, what you’ve been taught in Sunday School or heard preached a few hundred times by your pastor or read in a tract left in your screen door, but is this what you feel in the still, quiet moments where you and God are the only ones present?

Is this a reality that your heart rests in?

Is unsaved Nana really in Hell?

You see, it’s really easy to throw eternal punishment around at evil people; at those we dislike or fear or see as our enemies. The forecasting of damnation is big business in the modern Christian Church, and many pastors and pew sitters have made a lifetime hobby out of letting people know that high heat and humidity are in their permanent future unless they pray the prayer and sign on the dotted line.

And if we think about “sinners” only as some generalized, faceless, theoretical souls unattached to us, we might be able to find some kind of solace in a theology that includes the distinct possibility of them presently boiling in pools of sulphur. It’s one thing to flippantly condemn Muslims or gays or murderers or Democrats and feel confidently detached from it all.

But Nana? Sweet, funny Nana? She’s burning for all eternity?

I have to confess, this is a massive stretch for me as a man of faith.

I know the Scriptures back and forth, and what’s more I know the party line that so many Evangelicals tow. I know the hard sell that forms the bulk of so many’s religion and the unrelenting drive in Sunday Church services to “close the deal” with folks and get them into Heaven. I understand the momentary spiritual transaction that so many of us place at the center of their theology and the practical exercise of that theology.

Yet I also know the character and the goodness and the boundless love of God. What’s more, I’ve known thousands of “Nanas”; people of all walks of life whose lives reflect what I know to be the attributes of Jesus. Yet many of them have not been Christians or verbalized any faith at all, let alone confessed their sins in a traditional worship service by walking down the center aisle and falling at the feet of a stranger to receive salvation. And I’m supposed to accept that they are all eternally separated from God or doomed to such a fate—and that this is a perfectly fine religious position.

Frankly, the more I walk the road of faith (now four and a half decades in) the less peace I have with a God who would torment someone’s grandma. I have less and less confidence in a magic prayer as the foundation of our existence here, and our destination afterward. In the Gospels I see a Jesus who called people into a lifetime of following; of asking and seeking and knocking. I never see him calling them to an altar.

Many of you may see this as a watering down, a compromising, or even a complete denial of my Christianity, but I see it as an honest acknowledgment of the profound cognitive dissonance between a merciful, loving God who adores us—and a Divine, grudge-holding Nana burner.

If you claim faith in Jesus, just how do you reconcile a religion that so often threatens the world with Hell, assuring us that so few will ever avoid it; with the personal experience you have with beautiful, honorable, giving souls who come to you in flesh and blood every single day and who don’t fit within the rigid confines of that Christian tradition?

In your heart of hearts, are you able to believe that those you laugh with, work with, cuddle with, and eat with are condemned to suffer for eternity, in the absence of a measurable “Come To Jesus” moment, or is your faith in God built on far larger, more subtle, more complex understanding of who finds themselves in the presence of God beyond this life, and just how it all happens?

Is Nana really in Hell right now?




246 thoughts on “Is Nana Really Burning In Hell Right Now?

  1. A couple of years ago, A North Korean lady escaped to Australia. She was a Christian. She spoke at a church in Melbourne of how God helped her to escape and how God helped her though her trials and tribulations while escaping. Ravi Zacharias spoke about a Christian Vietnamese who escaped by boat with some soldiers after the Vietnam War. In New York, a man gave his life to Jesus just before he was killed in 9/11. Isn’t it amazing how God can reach into places and areas where we’ve never even dreamed of? Don’t you find it amazing, that despite heavy persecution, the name of Jesus is being praised in places like North Korea? Will you believe that people, who after all their lives being anti-theistic, suddenly give their life to Jesus on their death beds? Will you believe that a drug or porn addict (such as myself) turn their life around because of Jesus? Won’t you believe that our God is a God who will always do what is right and just?

    When I hear stories like these, and the stories of everyday people who are impacted by Jesus, it is difficult for me to believe that God is unjust and unloving. Job 38-40 demonstrates God’s infinite power and understanding and so who are we to question his judgment and his actions when we can’t even fully comprehend it? Why are we so worried about the things that God will do?

    “Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!” – Luke 12:24

    We should focus on loving one another and let God, who is pure in his judgement, have the final say.

  2. God is a parent. Would you turn your face away from your child because of something they did? Would you stop loving them? A real parent loves their child no matter what. God is the most real parent there is. He loves you no matter what. In fact He loved us so much that He sacrificed his own child for us. What is there to question?

    • You’re technically right, Pamela, but your implication is wrong. For many souls — Nana included — infinite, eternal torment is the correct fate. For why would GOD send down JESUS to save us from our original sin, if we did not have sin in the first place? The most parentlike thing GOD can do for such people is to treat them like the rotten fruit they are and cast them away from His glory.

      Nana deserves her agony. She earned that separation from GOD, and all the brutal torture that comes with it. And as GOD turns His back on her, as demons rip out her eyes and flay off her skin forevermore, she understands that nothing will ever save her. She is hopeless and helpless — rightfully so. GOD’s love has left her behind.

      Agony and sorrow await all those who refuse the path of JESUS. Accept JESUS or end up like Nana: in a state of pain and sorrow and depression inconceivable to our mortal minds.

  3. This article is false.
    No man can tell if someone gets to hell only if he has a divine revelation. I cannot recall anyone in recent history to bear this ability but Saint Padre Pio.

    Therefore we don’t have to read or write articles about who gets to heaven or who gets to hell because we have no idea AT ALL. Jesus teaches us to live a good life and leave the judgement to Him.

    And it’s not just about charity. It’s also about worshipping God – as a consequence that you accept his grace through the Holy Sacraments in which he feeds our spirits.

  4. It’s funny but what you describe as “orthodox” and “traditional”, the sinners prayer, going down the center isle to confess, sounds neither orthodox or traditional to me, but then I have experience in Catholic/Lutheran churches so all of what you describe is alien to me.

  5. Yes, of course Nana is burning in Hell. If she did not accept Jesus Christ into her heart as her Lord and Savior, she’s damned to infinite, eternal torment.

    And what’s worse, she deserves it. She has rightfully earned her place in Hell. If God has turned His back on her, then so should we. We should spare no pity for her wretched actions and her horrible fate. She earned her place in Hell.

    Why is anybody arguing otherwise? God’s word is absolute. Break it at your own torment.

  6. Your statement: “In your heart of hearts, are you able to believe that those you laugh with, work with, cuddle with, and eat with are condemned to suffer for eternity . . . .” Actually answers the question for me. If we really believed those folks were going to hell how could we bear to laugh with them? Wouldn’t our workdays be too filled with concern to be at all productive? Our hearts would surely be too saddened to cuddle. Could we possibly eat with them while crying over their eternal futures? No, I could not. And, how could Christians REALY believe this and ever laugh, work, cuddle or eat?

  7. I am always heartened by CS Lewis’s last story in The Chronicles of Narnia – “The Last Battle” – in which there is a “Judgement Scene”.
    All the protagonists, some of whom have not behaved well for most of the story, have to look Aslan in the face. Given that he is a lion – The Lion – when everyone has to look him in the eye they all experience fear, but many understand his love, and love him in return. They come through the door into the light. Others’ fear promotes hate, and they shy away into the darkness, but it is THEIR choice, not HIS will.

  8. Pingback: Is Nana Really Burning In Hell Right Now? | invernest

  9. The Lord Jesus Christ made it quite clear that there is a hell and He made it clear who all goes there. If a person does not get born again by the Spirit of God by faith in the atoning work on the cross, he or she will indeed spend eternity in the lake of fire and that includes all “nanas” who did not get born again, no matter how “good’ and loving they are. I heard soneone say once, “You mean a parent would cast his child into a fire to burn just because he or she was rebellious, what parent would do that?” People who think like that need to understand that God would not send His children to hell, only the devil’s children, because until a person gets born again by faith in Jesus Christ, that person is a child of the devil in a spiritual sense, so to escape the fires of hell, a person needs to become a legitimate child of God by getting born again by the Spirit of God, so no, God won’t cast His children into hell, but if a person is not born again, they are really a child of the devil and are headed for hell no matter how “good” they are. Also, you cannot believe in Jesus and not believe in hell, to say there is no hell is calling Jesus a liar because He said there is a hell, He died to keep us out and you are not a christian if you don’t believe in hell. How can anybody call Jesus his or her Saviour yet call Him a liar? You need to get born again.

Comments are closed.