Bat Out of Hell: Why Meatloaf got his theology wrong

Bat out of hell album cover

I hadn’t heard Bat Out of Hell for several years until a recent gig by The Classic Rock Show. Jim Steinman’s famous title track from the 1977 album is over-long and frankly a bit self-indulgent, but nevertheless contains some beautiful guitar licks and some archetypal classic rock moments.

Many have questioned the dubious morality of Steinman’s lyrics, speaking here, as on other tracks, of one-night stands and the like. Indeed, this 80s Christian book convinced me to trash my vinyl copy of BOOH, along with several others. (Not sure I’d do the same now, although I do accept that some lyrics, and artists, can be a less than healthy influence.) But it’s not Mr Loaf’s moral standards I want to draw to your attention, but rather his appallingly slapdash theology.

Where, for a start, do you find any suggestion in scripture that there are bats, or come to think of it, any other flying mammals, in hell? As far as I can see, hell (and its ultimate upgrade, the lake of fire) is reserved for “the Devil and his angels”. Oh, and any unrepentant sinner who refuses to accept Jesus Christ as saviour.

Secondly, the inference is that, where there to be such visually-challenged, roof-dwelling rodents in hell, they would somehow have the option of leaving. Er, no. When you’re in, you’re in. One way. It’s an eternity thing. Nobody and nothing is an anything out of hell.

Frantic

Thirdly, and finally, my take is that the whole lyrical purpose of the image is to imply an exit at great speed. Supposing, for a moment, that the bat was given day release, on what basis has Meatloaf decided that the flight would be frantic, lightning-fast or at least fairly rapid? Where’s the empirical evidence or the theoretical analysis? For all we know the Lord may have designed the eternal lake of fire to have a massive gravitational pull, thus rendering escape barely possible, let alone feasible at high speed. See my problem?

Sorry, Jim. It just doesn’t stack up. But, hey, it’s a long time ago and I’m sure you’ll not make the same mistake again. Just don’t make the even bigger mistake of ending up there to prove it for yourself. Oh, and for the record, sinners who reach the gates of heaven won’t be crawling. They’ll be rejoicing, confident and smiling a big, big smile.

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