Observing the Reformed community's reaction to the mere suggestion that an evangelical leader may be a universalist made me think about the implications of a Christianity with no hell. It speaks volumes if a Christian no longer finds a point in following Jesus if there is no hell.
An argument against universalism is that people will have less motivation to follow Christ if everyone will eventually go to heaven. This way of thinking reveals a Christianity that is focused more on avoiding something rather than working towards a better world (heaven on earth). Shouldn't we be seeking to feed the poor, care for the widow and orphan, and visit the prisoner regardless of whether this would somehow keep us from enduring eternal suffering?
(Reformed folks would be quick to point out that feeding the poor, etc, are "works," and we are actually saved by faith. While this is true, there should be no distinction between becoming a Christian (being saved by faith) and the action that should follow.)
To a lot of Christians, following Christ does not involve the poor, the marginalized, or even worrying about the world as it is now, because everything will just be made whole later, in heaven. Following Christ = a ticket out of hell and voting Republican. So to take hell out of the equation would really ruffle some feathers. It's a major part of evangelical Christianity - even beyond the Reformed groups. Hell is a favorite of many church leaders, especially those who deal with young, vulnerable people.
I'll admit it, even when I think about my extended absence from church, sadly a fear of hell occasionally creeps up. Hell was used as a powerful, persuasive tool on me for many years in the Southern Baptist church, so it's hard to shake. Involving myself again in a church community should not be motivated by a nagging fear of hell. I should be drawn to other things, like actually working with others to bring about the new kingdom, or being able to worship with others.
As an aside, I don't think that many evangelicals truly believe in a literal hell. If they did, then more people would be deeply concerned about the billion Muslims and the billion Chinese who, according to evangelicals, do not know Christ and are therefore damned. Either evangelicals don't believe in hell, or they have shockingly callous attitude toward the eventual suffering of their non-believing neighbors.