I found an interesting exchange in the comments section of a previous post. Greg had been accused of not being very "loving" or "Christ-like" in trying to convince some other readers that they were wrong about reality and in danger of hell. He noted "Loving someone does not mean being nice to them. Loving someone is guiding them towards their best interests."
An anonymous writer replied "I don’t recall Jesus qualifying love like this. I thought he taught
unconditional love of everyone which is much broader than simply
guiding someone towards their best interest."
This person either needs to read more of the gospels or work on his or her power of recall, because Jesus certainly did "qualify love like this." Jesus was intent on guiding people toward their best interests, and that often meant getting into harsh arguments with them (just look for the continuing dispute he stoked with the Pharisees, not to mention the famous cleansing of the temple).
Greg also said "I love people enough to not want to see them go to hell. And I love
them enough to proclaim boldly that hell is precisely where they are
going." To which the commenter replied
I respect the passion you have for your cause, however, your
approach is undermining your ultimate goal. Forcing your beliefs on
others with the threat of damnation and hell for noncompliance is the
one sure way to give people a reason not to embrace religion. Instead,
wouldn’t it be more productive to invite others to join with you in
your form of worship and let them decide for themselves if your
religion is right for them? Jesus as I recall said come follow me, not,
come follow me or else. It seems to me forcible preaching inherently
conflicts with the very beliefs it professes to embrace.
Wrong. First of all, we should not be feeding people some comfort inducing, touchy-feely, subjective "reasons" to embrace a religion. We should be trying to convince them that it is true and explaining fully the consequences of their decision. Religions are not "right or wrong for people", they are either objectively true or they are objectively false. They either accurately describe reality or they do not. As such, there either is such a place as hell or there is not and your feelings about that place matter not at all in deciding the answer to that question.
This was Jesus approach. He tried to convince people that he was telling the truth about reality (that truth being that He was God and the only way to get to Heaven and avoid hell) by doing miracles and rising from the dead. He did not try to sugarcoat the message or induce people to try it out and see if it "worked" for them by being nice to them. In fact, in John 6, when the people came and wanted to follow him for reasons other than the fact that they thought he was telling the truth, he chastised them and gave them a particularly hard teaching which caused many of them to leave. He offended them, but it was necessary because what mattered was that they understand the truth, not that they liked him.
Jesus talked about hell all the time and his most common type of parable involved the final judgment, where mankind is divided between those going to heaven and hell. Some typical teachings:
But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to
judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca, ‘ is answerable to the
Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather,
be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Greg was following
the model of Jesus. Truth matters more than hurt feelings. If hell is real, we
should be trying to convincing people not to end up there, whether they like us
for it or not.