[W]e moderns want to say Hell does not exist because it does not fit our therapeutic ideas of what religion should be. But you cannot edit Hell out of Scripture, especially because Jesus spoke of it as real. If He had never done so, and if Scripture was silent on the reality of Hell, that would be one thing. I’m not saying, "Hooray, Hell exists!" by any means. If I happen to arrive in Heaven and discover that Hell doesn’t exist, or that Hell exists but no one but the Devil is in there, I will rejoice. My point is simply that loss of a belief in Hell is indicative of a shift of our way of thinking about religion from prophetic (calling us to turn from our sins) to therapeutic (telling us that we’re okay, no matter what we do).
On the same subject, a reader flags the above video and writes:
It's not just Catholics who are shifting away from a belief in hell. I'm starting to see the shift with evangelicals as well, although they often loathe to admit it. The most prominent example is Rob Bell, pastor of the huge Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan and author of this book that created a lot of waves.
I watched the reaction to Bell's Love Wins with fascination. A few of the usual suspects dismissed it out of hand. But a number of those usual suspects (i.e., the ones that believe in hell) didn't agree with the book but acknowledged Bell is sparking a worthwhile "conversation" about the issue.
This is a sea change from a decade ago, when pastor Carlton Pearson essentially preached the same thing as Bell and was swiftly denounced. Almost overnight, he turned into a pariah in the evangelical community, and his book revealed (somewhat inadvertently) that he's still somewhat bitter about it.
I think what is happening is that young people, much like in the debate about gay marriage, are no longer accepting the same tired, illogical, and decidedly un-Christian arguments about the existence of hell. Young people are concentrating instead on making the current world a better place instead of fixating on the dreaded existential one.