I have been thinking about joining ISKCON but the thing that stops me is the fear of going to hell. Can you help me?

Q: Hi, I have been thinking about joining ISKCON but the thing that stops me is the fear of going to hell. Can you help me?

A: Hare Krishna,. Thank you for your question. Why do you think you would go to hell if you joined ISKCON?

Q: Well a lot of Christians said I would.

A: Well, if you have faith in Christ, then do you think he would say that you would go to hell? What are the qualifications for going to hell?

Q: I do have faith in Christ but some Christians say that ISKCON is an Idol worshiping 'cult' and you would be turning away from GOD.

A: We also disapprove of 'idol' worship. We make a distinction between 'idol' worship and 'deity' worship. When one imagines a form of God and worships that according to his imagination, that is 'idol' worship. When God says in the scripture that if you make a form of Me using these substances and worship according to these directions, I will reveal Myself to you through the medium of the deity. That is deity worship.

Q: Is that similar to the Ark of the Covenant?

A: Prabhupada says that deity worship is authorized by God while idol worship is not. He uses the analogy of the mailbox. If you put mail in a U.S. mailbox it will go to the destination. If you make your own box, and paint it red and blue and write 'U.S. Mail" on it, the letter will not go anywhere, because the box is not authorized by the postal service. I am not familiar with "Ark of the Covenant". If you describe it, I may be able to answer your question.

Q: It is the Holy Ark that the Israelites had and it was made of gold and carried the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s Staff, and Holy manna. It also had two Angels that protected it.

A: I see. It seems you could argue that it was spiritual and therefore worshipable, like a deity. We consider the scripture to be worshipable, and thus what carried the ten commandments could therefore be argued to be spiritual. The Catholics have less problem with deity worship than the Protestants because they see the form of Christ and those of the different saints to be spiritual and worshipable. Some Catholics are surprised by the similarities in the traditions.

Q: The Eastern Orthodox is also similar but they call them Icons rather than deities.

A: I see. Just a different terminology. In Sanskrit they are called ‘murtis’.

Q: Thank you so much. Sorry to be so sudden but I have to go.

A: No worries. Good luck on your spiritual journey.