Whenever I talk to certain people about hell I am reminded of something Jay Pritchett said on the TV show Modern Family. Whether you are a universalist, inclusionist, traditionalist, or none of the above, I hope the following piece of dialogue will make you smile. As Jay shows, whenever we make bold claims about the hereafter, there’s always a danger we’ll get tangled in theological knots.
In the episode entitled “Earthquake,” Jay has skipped church to go play a round of golf. His step-son Manny worries that Jay’s behavior will make God angry.
Manny: So you’re not worried about getting into trouble, you know, with God?
Jay: Oh, I think he’s got bigger things on his plate.
Manny: So you’re not worried about hell?
Jay: Let me let you in on a little secret, kid. There is no hell.
Manny: Seriously? No hell? That’s fantastic! So everyone just goes to heaven?
Jay: Yep. End of story.
Manny: Even bad people?
Jay: Yeah, they’re… they’re… they’re in another section, see? They’ve got this thing figured out. Can I hit this?
Jay misses a ten foot putt.
Jay: Dammit. You distracted me.
Manny: I didn’t say anything.
Jay: I could hear you thinking.
Manny: I’m thinking about this heaven of yours that’s full of bad people.
Jay: Not full – the tiniest fraction. They’re walled in.
Manny: What if they break out?
Jay: They’re surrounded by a lake of fire.
Manny: There are fiery lakes in heaven? This is turning into hell.
Jay misses another putt.
Jay: Tell me about it.
Source: Modern Family, ABC Network, episode aired 10/6/2010, Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan.