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The question no one asks about God and Hell
Christian Post ^ | 07/28/2020 | Robin Schumacher

Posted on 07/28/2020 8:56:05 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

I was listening to a Q&A podcast the other day at the gym and one of the questions was the familiar, “Why would a loving God send people to Hell?”

Sometimes this question is asked by a person who is genuinely struggling to reconcile God and eternal punishment. Sometimes the question is posed by a hatetheist who has no interest in a real answer but is rather more concerned with throwing out a gotcha question whose answer (hopefully) helps solidify their already-decided position of non-belief.

As I listened to the podcast, it occurred to me that in all the years I’ve heard the question asked and answered, I’ve never heard anyone ask it in this way:

Why would a just and righteous God send people to Hell?

Allow me to take a stab at an explanation as to why that is.

God’s attributes – all or nothing

When you study theology, you’ll come to a field called ‘theology proper’, which is a deep-dive into the attributes of God. Sometimes you’ll see ‘attribute’ called a ‘characteristic’, ‘perfection’ or ‘excellency’, but whatever term is used, it refers to a descriptor or essential trait of God’s nature. Literally every doctrine of Christianity can be traced back to one or more attributes of God, so this is an important area of study.

One attribute of God is love, something reiterated many times in Scripture such as in 1 John 4:16, which says, “God is love”.

Other attributes include His holiness, justice and righteousness, which are repeated throughout the Bible such as in Psalm 11:7 – “For the Lord is righteous”.

God’s attributes are holistic with respect to His nature. That is, God is not more righteous than He is loving or more loving than He is holy. Moreover, His attributes qualify each other and go together so, for example, His justice is a holy justice and His love is a righteous love. Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You.”

All this to say that God does not jettison or depress one attribute (justice) for another (love); it’s all or nothing. This is important to understand especially when it comes to topics like eternal punishment.

Love and justice

Everyone ‘loves’ the idea of love, but justice and righteousness, well, their popularity is very dependent on the circumstance. We welcome the latter two if we personally benefit from them, but we aren’t such fans when justice comes knocking at our door to demand payment.

Today, more than ever, we believe punishment is something that’s for other people, but not us. This is because we’ve become exceedingly proficient at both maximizing the badness we believe exists in others and the goodness we think we possess.

The truth of the matter is everyone commits wrong, large or small, and because of that, the Bible places us all in the same boat that’s been christened ‘Lost’.

Judicially speaking, Scripture says every sin matters to a Holy God, and each offense causes us to fall short of His glory and disqualifies us from spending eternity in His presence. The French dramatist, Moliner may have said, “It is a public scandal that gives offense, it is no sin to sin in secret”, but whether public or private, our wrongdoings bring the potential for great penalty in the next life.

On that fact, people tell me all the time that God assigning us to Hell for sin is not fair and overkill. But the truth of the matter is, God has done more for us than we deserve, and His justice is more in line with what we believe on the matter than we want to admit.

Right thinking on God and Hell

People who picture God as an evil ogre in the matter of judgment would do well to understand God’s antecedent and consequent wills. Thomas Aquinas explains it like this: “Hence it may be said of a just judge, that antecedently he wills all men to live; but consequently wills the murderer to be hanged. In the same way God antecedently wills all men to be saved, but consequently wills some to be damned, as His justice exacts.”[1]

The antecedent will of God has resulted in Him graciously providing the means to escape eternal punishment through Jesus’ work on the cross to any who will accept it. If it’s love you want to see expressed by God, well then, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Moreover, the elegance and beauty with which God expresses His love and justice in rescuing people from eternal punishment is mind blowing. In Islam, for example, Allah capriciously grants eternal life to some and punishment to others. In this way, Allah provides love at the expense of his justice, and thus justice is left wanting.

But Christianity is markedly different in that God provides love through His justice. God’s justice is satisfied because Christ paid the penalty for all believer’s sins. But at the same time, His love is greatly poured out on those being saved by Christ. Perfect love and perfect justice are meted out in unison.

Back to our question

I doubt anyone would ask why a good judge would punish a guilty person; in fact, we would think the judge unjust if they didn’t. But when it comes to God and us, we don’t think anyone (well, maybe Hitler) has done anything worthy of such an over-the-top punishment like Hell, especially us.

But transgressions against an eternal God demand an eternal reprimand. Threaten my life and nothing will likely happen to you. But make a realistic threat against the President’s life and you’re going to federal prison. The severity of a punishment oftentimes takes into consideration the party wronged.

A just and righteous God has every right to sentence those committing transgressions against Him to a God-less eternity. But that same loving God has provided a way for those wrongs to be placed on His Son who has willingly paid the price for them, resulting in a verdict of “not guilty” for anyone trusting in Christ.

The doors to Hell, as C. S. Lewis said in his book The Great Divorce, are “locked on the inside”.[2] Anyone who doesn’t pop that lock with the gift our loving, righteous and just God has given them to avoid eternal punishment has only themselves to blame.



Robin Schumacher is a former software executive and Christian apologist who has written many apologetic articles, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at various apologetic events. He holds a Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament.

TOPICS: Moral Issues; Theology
KEYWORDS: god; hell; justice; punishment
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1 posted on 07/28/2020 8:56:05 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

A question that occurs to me is, if you didn’t want him for your 70 or 80 years on this earth, you aren’t going to want him in eternity. If you want him in eternity, you want him now.

2 posted on 07/28/2020 9:06:47 AM PDT by marron
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To: SeekAndFind

I was asked once, by a atheist friend, why everyone can’t go to Heaven. I asked her “Why do you want to go to Heaven?” She looked at me, puzzled. I added “If Heaven is a place where you are eternally in the presence of God, why would an atheist want to be there?”

3 posted on 07/28/2020 9:08:09 AM PDT by Huskrrrr
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To: marron

Beat me to it.

4 posted on 07/28/2020 9:08:40 AM PDT by Huskrrrr
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ive always believed that God doesnt damn anyone eternally, but the person rejecting God, damns him or herself.

5 posted on 07/28/2020 9:10:20 AM PDT by raygunfan
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To: SeekAndFind

Ping for later...

6 posted on 07/28/2020 9:11:54 AM PDT by Jan_Sobieski (Sanctification)
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To: SeekAndFind

When you read of Satan in a Lake of Fire for eternity it can be off putting. Today’s society tries to rehabilitate the criminal. It would want Satan on non-psychotic drugs and on Freud’s couch talking about why he hates his dad God (Oedipus Complex). It would want him to become a productive member of society again. Our society can’t understand absolute evil or absolute good. It has a bit of both in it and wants to lessen evil and heighten the good. Absolute evil has one solution, one end and only one ultimate end.

To live with absolutes is hard for us and we tend to see it’s work as cruelty. If a father took his son and put him in a Lake of Fire for Eternity, that in today’s society would be seen as a cruel and unusual punishment. He would be hauled up to Family Court for such an offence. The same would apply to the way God seems to coldly allow his children to kill themselves. What loving father would allow that for his children? Why doesn’t he step in and stop it? This is parental neglect! Bang — God is dragged back into Family Court.

7 posted on 07/28/2020 9:22:04 AM PDT by BEJ
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To: SeekAndFind

God has designed and built heaven. His rules will apply. You don’t get to pick and chose what you like. Many people will not want to live there. The alternative place is hell.

8 posted on 07/28/2020 9:27:42 AM PDT by alternatives?
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To: SeekAndFind
Good post. Schumacher made a good argument, but I want to add to it in my own words.

God's condemnation is right and just, and we actually condemn ourselves before we are judged by Him (by our actions and omissions).

Many people confuse redemption with salvation, therefore don't live by God's Law; thus freely choosing hell over heaven.

9 posted on 07/28/2020 9:29:55 AM PDT by heterosupremacist (Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God. Thomas Jefferson)
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To: heterosupremacist
"Good post. Schumacher made a good argument, but I want to add to it in my own words."

It's really basic rifle marksmanship. You either hit the target or you don't. Fortunately, God has furnished us with:

1. The perfect training manual that tells us exactly what we need to do to hit the target. 2. While we're here on earth, He gives us as much ammo and as many opportunities as we want to try to hit the target.

Some ignore the training manual completely. Some give it a half-hearted attempt and give up entirely after a few misses. Some simply walk away seeing no point in trying to hit the target.

A few do their best and keep trying.

10 posted on 07/28/2020 9:37:30 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.)
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To: SeekAndFind

They ask that question because they make a fundamental mistake, thinking God’s love and His wrath are opposites.

11 posted on 07/28/2020 9:42:56 AM PDT by KStorm
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To: SeekAndFind

If some do not expect God to do in the end... that which He has promised since the beginning...then why are they watching His channel?

12 posted on 07/28/2020 9:54:03 AM PDT by BuddhaBrown (Path to enlightenment: Four right turns, then go straight until you see the Light!)
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To: SeekAndFind

He doesn’t send souls there ... they choose it over loving God. It’s that simple.

13 posted on 07/28/2020 9:54:28 AM PDT by al_c (Democrats: Party over Common Sense)
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To: alternatives?
His rules will apply. You don’t get to pick and chose what you like. Many people will not want to live there.

This is the point, I think. When we are in our resurrection bodies, there are no desires of the flesh so sins related to that are no longer relevant. There are no needs of the body for food or shelter, which is where the desire for money comes from, so there are no sins related to want or greed. In the presence of God we will understand his true will and so sins arising from imperfect understanding of his will (i.e. imperfect doctrine in whatever church you follow) are no longer relevant.

All that is left are sins of rebellion. Sins where you decide your judgment on what is and isn't sinful is more correct than God's. So if you declare "Homosexuality is just as good as heterosexuality, and if you don't agree then . . . then I don't want to be there." You'll get your wish. If you think it won't be Heaven unless you have more gold or fancier clothes or whatever than someone else . . . then you don't want to be there.

Rebellion is the one unpardonable sin, since it is the one that remains after all the needs of the body become irrelevant. It's what got Lucifer thrown out of Heaven. All we need to do (Acts 16:30) is believe in Jesus as Lord (that is, not rebel against him as Lord, believing that His will is better than what we might choose on our own), and in our resurrection bodies, we can be compatible with the perfect Holiness of God.

Of course, all our past sins have to be addressed for God to be just. Thankfully, that price has already been paid.
14 posted on 07/28/2020 10:04:23 AM PDT by Phlyer
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To: marron
Why? The first thing that came to mind is this from Wisdom 13:1
All men were by nature foolish who were in ignorance of God,
and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing him who is,
and from studying the works did not discern the artisan;
I believe they/we do want Him, but they/we are also caught in a trap of their/our own design ... with the help of the enemy, of course, who is totally committed to our fall.

We love our lives and we love the world, all of which are the gifts of a loving Father/God, but we fail, for whatever reason(s), to make the connections between the gifts and the Giver.

At the end, when we are shown Truth and the connections are made, for real, for those there will be a great weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, for the now obvious reasons.

Unfortunately, those reasons are not so obvious in this now. If this is the delusion 2 Thes 2:11 talks about, then it truly is very strong and difficult to overcome.

From the beginning, dying to oneself has always been a worthy challenge in our becoming a peaceful warrior of God, but not always a popular one.

15 posted on 07/28/2020 10:10:17 AM PDT by GBA (Here in the matrix, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.)
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To: Huskrrrr

They might or I might answer in their place that the theology or myth from their point of view is that heaven is pleasant and hell unpleasant. I think we could answer that the reason heaven is pleasant is because of the presence of God. That the fruits of the holy spirit are overflowing there and that as believers we desire all that. That is our prize that we aim for.

16 posted on 07/28/2020 10:40:39 AM PDT by xp38
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To: al_c

Souls choose to reject the love of God. I think it was C. S. Lewis who wrote that in the end we either say to God, “Thy will be done” or God says to us “Thy will be done” and we are cut off from the presence of God and the Light of Christ. The complete absence of God’s influence is something no mortal has ever experienced. Even the most heinous villains in history have been constantly surrounded by reminders of God: beauty, innocence, tenderness, birth, death, bravery, kindness, loyalty. Whatsoever entices us to do good comes from God. Remove that influence and He’ll is the natural result: a place filled with desperate, hateful predators who no longer have prey except each other, who hate all, trust none and can find no rest, satisfaction, peace, hope or allies where even their memories of goodness fade or are expunged. This is what they chose. This is what they get because they create it themselves.

17 posted on 07/28/2020 10:43:05 AM PDT by caseinpoint (Don't get thickly involved in thin things.)
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To: xp38

Good answer!

18 posted on 07/28/2020 11:00:05 AM PDT by Huskrrrr
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To: All
I see a lot of good answers on here.Heaven has no place for rebellion (Lucifer found that out). In Heaven there are no worries or stress. For the first time since childhood (or maybe ever), you don't worry about anything. You will have an eternity to learn and explore.
Alternately, if you choose Hell you will see Heaven in all of its splendor and glory and have regrets and see the misery you traded it all for. A poor trade indeed. Scofflaws brag "Better to rule in Hell than serve in heaven" will soon find there is no rule in Hell. It is utter chaos and panic. People will go insane after a while. The only thing eternal about Hell is the finality about it. Eventually it will be gone and forgotten and the universe will be clean and pure.
19 posted on 07/28/2020 12:21:01 PM PDT by BipolarBob (The cost of abortion is a human sacrifice.)
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To: raygunfan

My view as well... marking for later.

20 posted on 07/28/2020 12:49:50 PM PDT by thesearethetimes... (Had I brought Christ with me, the outcome would have been different. Dr.Eric Cunningham)
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