A pastor has commented on Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ statement that some preachers “want me to go to heaven by frightening me not to go to hell”.
The Reverend Paul Duncan, in a sermon on Sunday, said some people would only make it to heaven if they are scared out of hell.
Duncan, preaching at the opening night of three nights of deeper life services at Rillan Hill Church of the Nazarene, said people should want to go to heaven, not merely out of fear of hell.
“He (the prime minister) may have a point in that we can’t just preach about hell,” said Duncan, who is senior pastor at Hope for Life Restoration Ministries.
“I don’t want to go to heaven just because I want to escape hell,” Duncan said while preaching on the theme “Embracing the Mandate for Discipleship”.
“I mean, I want to go to heaven because God loves me, he sent His Son to die for me and it was always God’s original plan to have fellowship with man,” he further stated.
“However, this is where I disagree with him. I want you to get this very clear: Some people will only make it into heaven if you scare them out of hell,” Duncan said.
“Let me say it again. Speaking about discipleship, one method may not work for everybody. Not no one-size-fit-all. Some will make it into heaven by preaching John 3:16. Good. But some wouldn’t make it in that way. Some will only make it into heaven only if you preach hell; no other words. You have to scare them out of hell,” he said, noting that growing up, he often heard older people say, “Who nah wah hear go feel.
“In other words, in order for some people to make it over into paradise, they first have to get into trouble…”
He said the scripture shows that even great men and women got into serious trouble before God intervened.
“Some of us who are here today, the reason why we are in church today is because of the trouble we found ourselves in years ago,” Duncan said.
Last week, Gonsalves, speaking at a regional symposium on crime in Trinidadtook issue with the way in which some preachers present their sermons.
He said the church has a role to play in addressing crime, adding that the church might be better able to do so “if they stop trying to frighten us to go to heaven because of hell.
“Because every time I go to church, they want me to go to heaven by frightening me not to go to hell,” Gonsalves said.
“They have to begin to preach better in order to get my attention. And if they can’t get my attention in that way …, how are they going to get young people’s attention?” he said told of the gathering of CARICOM leaders, academics and member of the judiciary
Gonsalves returned to the topic on Tuesday, the closing day of the symposium, saying that some preachers were criticising his comments.
“And for those preachers — I hear one or two of them already criticising me for what they said yesterday as how they preach, I don’t take instruction from what men say in this regard,” Gonsalves said.
“In the book of Micah, the question is asked, … ‘What does the Lord require of me?’ And the answer: ‘to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God’.”
Gonsalves, a Roman Catholic, said he disagreed with his church’s position against the death penalty, and called on the region to execute murderers, despite the position of the European Union, one of CARICOM’s major developmental partners.