Recently, for the first time in a long time, I heard Nirvana’s song, Lake of Fire, again. As I told my brother, the song is eerily real, making hell not only a theological concept but a place where real, normal people go that you see around.
I’m tempted to say that if I didn’t already believe hell existed, the song might make think it did and possibly even terrify me.
While the eerie lyrics of the song have the right music to enhance that feeling, it’s not even that part of it that would terrify me most. Rather thinking about Kurt Cobain’s life and how it ended – did he believe that “bad folks” were hopelessly condemned to hell and that there was no chance of reconciliation? Did he end his life believing that he had done unforgivable evil? What is generally thought to be his suicide note may suggest so.
The Struggling Are Doomed to Hell
In the song, we see people struggling in life, “looking for a dry place to call their home.” We see the battle of good vs evil trying to lay hold of each person’s life – “While the angels and the devils try to make them their own.” But the final word is pessimistic, fearful and resigned, as we hear the refrain repeated once more – “Where do bad folks go when they die? They don’t go to heaven where the angels fly. They go down to the lake of fire and fry.”
In Kurt Cobain’s song, the struggle between good and evil is a necessary victory for evil. There is no mercy, no hope and no forgiveness. There isn’t even the cry for mercy that we see in lyrics from bands like Black Sabbath, but only depressed, hopeless resignation.
Bad people go to hell. That’s the gospel according to Kurt Cobain.
Today, I was again part of a prayer vigil for abortion. We prayed for not only for unborn and aborted babies, and not only for mothers contemplating abortion, but especially for women who had had abortions. Our prayer to God was this:
“For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on on us and all the whole world.”
That is the Gospel of Jesus; sinners – “bad folks” – can go to heaven. And we both pray and hope that they do.
Those who abuse drugs, inspire others to addiction and sin and have become “miserable and self-destructive” (as Kurt described himself) – as serious as those sins are, I can’t image they are worse than the sin of a mother who has despaired of love so much that she desires to kill the child inside of her, to whom she gave life, or to the men and women that force her to do so. Yet, we pray for these and worse, not that they get dragged into hell by the demons, as Kurt took for granted, but that they will simply say “yes” to that mercy that is there for all of us.
Thankfully, Kurt was wrong, because it is that simple; we just need to turn to Christ and say “yes.”
For your enjoyment, here is Nirvana performing Lake of Fire: