Anthony Bourdain In Hell?
No man knows. But it's not unlikely
Or perhaps purgatory (which Catholics and other Christians believe is like the cleansing room at the entrance to heaven). Or maybe even Heaven itself. For though the argument above is perfectly valid, it is not necessarily sound. Missing from it is the premise that it is God, and God alone, who judges. Since God knows all, and we know but little, there could be any number of reasons God chose to show Bourdain mercy. Let us pray He did.
On the other hand, if we insert the premise of God’s potential mercy, we still are forced to conclude: Based on what we know, it’s likely Anthony Bourdain is in Hell.
Now this is an unpleasant thought. Indeed, there is none more unpleasant. It is an awful, sickening thing to contemplate. The mind reels, and does its best to refuse to grasp the point. Why? Because we all know it could be our own fate we have in mind. Which is well. It is why St. Paul advised “with fear and trembling work out your salvation.”
Such thoughts were probably on the mind of David Leavitt (who is no conservative), who tweeted, “If you’re religious, then you believe there’s a special place in hell or purgatory for people like Anthony Bourdain who take their own lives.”
This, unfortunately, and with the same qualification about God’s mercy, is also true. Suicide in many cases, as the Catholic Encyclopedia writes, “constitutes a grave injustice towards” God. Since the act is final, there is no chance to beg forgiveness.
Leavitt was careful not to claim to know definitively Bourdain is in Hell. But, again, it’s not unlikely.
To say that people did not like hearing this is like saying Vlad the Impaler was displeased with Transylvania’s Saxons.
Many took the attitude that it was Leavitt, or Christians in general, who put Bourdain in Hell. This accounts for Matthew Stone’s article in Patheos: “Christians Claim Atheist Anthony Bourdain Is Burning In Hell.”
Stone calls himself a “secular humanist,” which like Bourdain, signals an unwillingness to seek redemption. He said, “There is no heaven, and there is no hell. Death is final, and that is tragedy enough. There is no afterlife.”
They said what?
Stone took exception to Leavitt’s tweet, and to tweets made by other Christians. Including some by the notorious Westboro Baptist Church.
That group is not known for their subtlety or in their accuracy in relating scripture. But in this case they said:
After lapping up the goods of this world — with no observable evidence that he sought and served God — Anthony Bourdain most likely faces a sorrowful and hopeless eternity in Hell. Oh, don’t follow him!!! #ServeGodAndLive #WhyWillYouDie
There is nothing wrong in that. And nothing in poor taste, either.
Somebody calling himself John Garcia shouted, “FEEL SORRY FOR FAMILY BUT BY HIM DOING WHAT HE DID HE WILL BURN IN HELL. UNLESS HE ASKED FOR GOD FORGIVENESS.” True, too.
But there were some folks who were too sure of themselves. Many said Bourdain was certainly “burning in Hell.” Some even appeared to take pleasure in this judgment. Stone called them out for “wallowing in their deplorable schadenfreude.”
Even if Bourdain is in Hell, no one should take pleasure in the thought. It is off-putting to non-Christians because it doesn’t remind them that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” To take glee in the real possibility of Bourdain’s awful fate is to imply God did not desire salvation for the man. And that is never true for anybody.
Cheering this man’s probable end is too close to the sin of presumption. It smacks of the implication that God won’t apply his judgment to you because you don’t “deserve” Hell. Which all of us do.
A Painful Truth
Still, it’s not the wrong time to bring up the awkward and uncomfortable truth that Hell is what awaits those who shun God. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:15).
It was Jesus himself, our Lord, who warned us what the parable of the weeds meant. “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
So, let’s pray fervently for the eternal destiny of everyone, and then trust them to the mercy of God.