If Christ Was Real…He Wouldn’t Send People to Hell

5 Feb

A place of burning fire, likened to the loss of an only child. Hell is a horrific place.

No wonder, this doctrine puts people off Christianity.

Emotionally, the idea is so disgusting we want to never hear it again. Logically, it seems utterly inconsistent that Christ could send people to hell.

Surely a loving God can’t send people to hell?

If Christianity is to stand we must ask this question: is there any way a loving God would allow hell?

Hell is Chosen

Firstly, a loving God could allow hell if we choose to go there.

The ultimate responsibility for going to hell lies with us. True, God decides to punish sin, but that doesn’t mean he is ultimately responsible. If I murdered a child nobody would blame the judge for me rotting in jail. They’d say it was my own fault.

So it is with us. We chose to rebel and therefore we are responsible for being in hell. God lets us have what we want. An eternity without him. We just don’t realise now how painful that is.

Hell is Just

Secondly, a loving God could allow hell if it was a just thing to send people there.

Many think that disobeying God’s law doesn’t deserve hell.  Surely, a loving God could never condemn us according to this!

Yet he could for two good reasons:

  • We shun a law that is always good: God gives us commands that make life better. Even people who complain God is unjust agree we should love our neighbours as ourselves. This is a law God created! His laws are all good laws and so it is loving that he enforces them.
  • We accept a life that is always hurtful: Our sin has tremendous consequences. Why do people cry? Why do people commit suicide? Why do people starve for lack of food? Because people like us abuse them our whole lives. God must punish us if he is loving to those we hurt. If he allowed people who hurt others as much as we have to go to his new creation, then frankly he isn’t loving at all!

For God to be a loving God he must be just, he must be fair. Hell is the ultimate sign of his justice and his justice shows us his love.

Hell is Hated

Thirdly, a loving God could allow hell if it was something he hated.

If God sends sinners to hell with sadistic glee, he isn’t loving. Yet hear this:

As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked

Ezekiel 33:11 (ESV)

God does not enjoy hell. In his love he laments over those going there. Therefore, how can we say hell disproves his love?

Hell is Love Revealed

Fourthly, a loving God could allow hell if it provided a way to reveal his love.

How does hell provide a way for God to reveal his love?

You and I deserve hell. If God is creating a perfect world, sinners like us don’t deserve to be there.

Yet the crazy thing is I won’t be going to hell. Why? Because Christ died in my place. He said that he would die on my behalf. He would go through the punishment of hell that I deserved.

That isn’t to say Jesus literally went to a place called hell. But he had the wrath of God poured out on him on the cross, and that is what hell truly is.

What absolute love that shows! That he would go through hell for us! All we have to do is repent of our sin and have faith in Christ and our sin is forgotten. How loving is that?

Hell reveals the love of God, for it shows what he was willing to do to save us. A loving God could allow hell for he would allow it to reveal the love he has for us.

Over to You

What are your problems with hell? Do you think it disproves the existence of God? What do you think of the God who went through hell to save us from sins?

P.S. Tim Keller’s Reason for God was really helpful in answering this question.

This Series:
If Christ Was Real… Answering four arguments that Christ cannot exist (Originally discussed at BridgingSchisms.org).

1. If Christ was real…he wouldn’t have such awful followers.
2. If Christ was real…he wouldn’t send people to hell. (this post)
3. If Christ was real…he wouldn’t judge us according to an unjust law
4. If Christ was real…he wouldn’t call me “sinner”. (coming soon)

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26 Responses to “If Christ Was Real…He Wouldn’t Send People to Hell”

  1. morsec0de February 5, 2009 at 8:50 pm #

    “If Christ Was Real…He Wouldn’t Send People to Hell”

    Actually, the argument should be closer to:

    If Christ Was Real And All Good (Omnibenevolent)…He Wouldn’t Have Created Hell

    “What are your problems with hell?”

    Infinite punishment for finite crime is unjust. Just as I would be against a judge sentencing a person to death for a parking violation, I am against the idea of eternal punishment for the acts done in a life that is finite.

    “Do you think it disproves the existence of God?”

    No.

    The lack of evidence for the existence of a god does that.

    The concept of hell just means that, if there was a god, he’d be unpleasant and I wouldn’t want to worship him.

    “What do you think of the God who went through hell to save us from sins?”

    If that person injured by the experience? Do they no longer have the abilities they had before the experience? Are they scarred?

    If not, then I see no point to it.

    • Aleyamma Mathew March 31, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

      There are different types of Hell..The Christian Hell is the creation of the Jewish Religion.KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU’ So is hell,hopefully..Mathew 001-804562-1641

  2. Eshu February 6, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for taking the time to address the comments we made. I’m sorry I didn’t comment on your previous post, but I’ve been somewhat busy. I hope we can understand each other a bit better as a result of this.

    The ultimate responsibility for going to hell lies with us. True, God decides to punish sin, but that doesn’t mean he is ultimately responsible.

    I think responsibility is proportional to power. Someone who is completely powerless to change something carries no responsibility for it. I haven’t read much juris prudence, but I’d guess some ability to affect the outcome of a situation would be a prerequisite for being held responsible. You don’t shout at your friend because it happens to rain on your wedding day, because your friend has no power to control the weather.

    If God has ultimate power, then I’d say that automatically gives him ultimate responsibility.

    If I murdered a child nobody would blame the judge for me rotting in jail. They’d say it was my own fault.

    But you haven’t and you never will. Most of us haven’t and never will. It’s an emotive example, but the “crime” we’re talking about here is nothing more than ignorance.

    For the crime of being ignorant of your particular god, people are subjected to eternal torture. How much power do people ignorant of God have to avoid this? None.

    Tim, I’m sure there are gods out there that you and I have never heard of. How would you feel if at the end of our lives we were condemned for not worshipping them? How is that fair? What were we supposed to do about it?

    How can someone be condemned for making a “choice” when they weren’t even aware that they were making a choice? It doesn’t make any sense!

    So it is with us. We chose to rebel and therefore we are responsible for being in hell. God lets us have what we want. An eternity without him.

    No we don’t. We can’t very well rebel against something we don’t even know exists! Are you rebelling against Allah? And Zeus? How about Ganesh – do you feel like you’re rebelling against Ganesh?

    So we have a twofold problem:
    – Some people are unaware that any such person as Christ/Yahweh exists and can hardly be held responsible for that fact.
    – Some of us have heard the stories, but have no way to distinguish them from the other similar-sounding stories of other religions. God has done little to inform us and clear up this confusion, as evinced by the thousands of Christian sects and other religions, all of whom can point to the Bible (or other holy book) and tell you why they have it right.

    At the very least, Jesus should show up in an unambiguous way to every person and make sure that they understand what their options are. Only then could they really be said to be making free, informed choices.

    If Jesus were to show up and say (in effect) “Worship me or be tortured forever”, then of course I’d worship him (I’m a coward like that). Still, it would feel more like a visit from the Mafia than the actions of a loving god.

    I think there are plenty of problems with your other justifications, but I have work to do and this comment is long enough already! Hopefully I’ve given you something to think about.

  3. Richard February 6, 2009 at 6:07 pm #

    Eshu,

    You stated that “We can’t very well rebel against something we don’t even know exists!” But that is precisiely where you are wrong, as Paul writes in Romans 1,

    “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (TNIV)

    “But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (NLT)

    Further, people are not punished for not knowing about Jesus rather they are punished for their sin. And yet,

    “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

    “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” (TNIV)

  4. Demian Farnworth February 6, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    Eshu: I think the important question now is: You know about the possibility of hell. What are you going to do about it?

  5. Eshu February 6, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    Richard,

    Thanks for your Bible quotes. I admit I am somewhat shocked and appalled that you can believe this. I’ll explain why.

    The assertion made by your Bible quote is plainly not consistent with reality. I appreciate that the idea of the Bible being wrong in any way is probably anathema to you, but I don’t share that bias.

    To elucidate. If all the people of the world were aware of Jesus/God in sufficient detail that they were able to make an informed decision to avoid hell, there are several things which would follow:

    1. When missionaries visited new countries (who’d had no prior contact with Christians from outside), they’d already be worshipping Jesus. At least some of them would already be saved – if not then this “knowledge” of God isn’t sufficient to give them responsibility.

    2. Nobody would be following the “wrong” god. People don’t like pain. If they actually knew what was coming you can bet they’d fall in line pronto.

    3. Evangelism wouldn’t be necessary.

    Maybe thinking about it from another angle would be helpful… imagine the ancient religious texts of Lithuania said that all people are intrinsically aware of Dievas, because He has made it clear to everyone and those who claim otherwise are fooling themselves or have lost their way. Wouldn’t you dispute that? Wouldn’t you think that was a tiny bit parochial and arrogant?

  6. Tim Wilson February 7, 2009 at 7:38 am #

    I should stop posting on days where I know I can’t answer comments quickly!

    Morsec0de,

    Thanks for dropping by. That is a better way of putting it thanks.

    In terms of the punishment fitting the crime, it does fit. We have utterly decimated the entire Earth by our sin. The world will have to be destroyed permanently because of what we’ve done. If we have destroyed something, it is fitting that we are destroyed. The punishment does fit the crime.

    I think your statement is very honest. What evidence do you think disproves the existence of God?

    Jesus is scarred for eternity. In John he returns with the physical scars of his crucifixion.

    He will be emotional scarred and changed by the experience because we are told he was made perfect through suffering (Hebrews 2:10-18). Not that he wasn’t perfect before, but rather that he could empathise with us. Does this affect your view about him?

    I think your statement is very honest. We do not want hell to be real, and that’s to be expected. But few murderers think they deserve to go to prison. They are utterly deceived and truly believe that their murder was fair.

    You say you wouldn’t like a God who made hell. If so, may I suggest that sin is deceitful. It will blind you to the truth. You are the addicted man I talked about. Because you want to rule over your life you will convince yourself that hell doesn’t exist.

    Yet Hell doesn’t have to be where you go. Ask God, if he is real, to open your eyes to the deceitfulness of sin and reveal his truth. Then read his Word for yourself and see if you are changed.

    If that doesn’t work then fine, don’t believe. But I think in a matter this weighty we need to ensure we aren’t covered by sin.

    I know these are hard things and I hope, though they are offensive, they will be helpful to you.

  7. Tim Wilson February 7, 2009 at 7:59 am #

    Eshu,

    Don’t worry, I know the feeling of busyness. I hope we can understand each other better and moreover that we can find the truth. I of course believe that’s Jesus and pray you’ll get there!

    If I can be so rude as to push these questions to one side, I think that most of them will probably come up in the next post “If Christ was real…he wouldn’t let people deny him”.

    I might change the title, because what I’m really getting at is he wouldn’t make a law that for a large percentage of the world’s population is utterly impossible to obey or understand. If any of the questions from this post remain unanswered pull me up on it and I’ll comment on it.

    What I would ask is this, by what judgement do you evaluate how just it is for God to send people to hell? If he does exist, surely as creator of the universe he creates his own rules. Now you can say “I don’t think that’s fair” but to what higher authority can you appeal than to the Creator (if we assume God exists)?

    This obviously gets us on to the Ganesh ting, which is a good point. When you’ve got all these many different religions how do you know it’s Jesus or Allah or The Great Spirit or whoever. If there was just one God, fine hedge your bets with him. But with so many how can you be held responsible for believing the wrong one.

    I’m still working it through…I’ll hopefully get to the bottom of it by next week.

  8. Richard February 7, 2009 at 9:38 am #

    Eshu,

    Thanks for your response, your three points do not follow from what I have said. There is a contrast between natural revelation (what I was talking about) and special revelation (what you are talking about).

    The Canons of Dordtrecht notes that:

    “There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and conversion to him–so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.”(III/IV.4)

    The reason I know we are talking at tangents is that you said “If all the people of the world were aware of Jesus” after I had said “people are not punished for not knowing about Jesus rather they are punished for their sin” hence your Dievas question doesn’t quite fit.

  9. Richard February 7, 2009 at 9:40 am #

    FWIW: John Gill’s Of The State and Case of the Heathens is worth a read.

  10. Eshu February 7, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    Tim,

    He will be emotional scarred and changed by the experience because we are told he was made perfect through suffering (Hebrews 2:10-18). Not that he wasn’t perfect before, but rather that he could empathise with us.

    Wow – such a clear example of an internal inconsistency! So was he perfect before or was he made perfect through suffering? You can’t have it both ways. Doesn’t it strike you there’s something fishy going on here? Is Christianity supposed to make sense?

    If he does exist, surely as creator of the universe he creates his own rules. Now you can say “I don’t think that’s fair” but to what higher authority can you appeal than to the Creator (if we assume God exists)?

    Tim, does might make right? If I’m stronger than you, either physically, financially or politically, does that make it alright (morally) for me to abuse you? I don’t think it does. No doubt you think God is a special case, but for me, “Because He CAN.” is a very weak moral argument and not one I’d want humans to emulate.

    If there was just one God, fine hedge your bets with him. But with so many how can you be held responsible for believing the wrong one.

    Tim, very honest of you to say this. I know some Christians (and no doubt other religions) seriously think Pascal’s Wager is a good argument, to which I can only say that they can’t have travelled much. There seems little to choose between many world religions, if we ignore cultural bias (probably the biggest factor in choice of religion). The following article has more on religious confusion, and might be of help in understanding my point of view.

    I appreciate that you probably want some time to think my other questions through, which is fine. I’m interested in your considered opinion on them. I will try to remind you later, or perhaps re-voice my questions in a post on my blog.

  11. Eshu February 7, 2009 at 12:01 pm #

    Demian,

    Eshu: I think the important question now is: You know about the possibility of hell. What are you going to do about it?

    I’m planning to investigate it and see how likely the religion which describes it is. I’m planning to investigate some other religions or views on religion to see what their take on it is.

    I’m going to try to do this without wishing for any one viewpoint to be true. I’m not going to accept things because one particular old book makes a claim, or someone says it is so, even if I respect that person a lot. I’m going to try and evaluate the claims I hear on their own merits, rather than how much I like or dislike the people making them. What I’m not going to do is believe something simply because it’s scary or because it’s comforting. I’m interested in what is true.

    I’ve just written a post about hell inspired partly by your comment that goes into this in more detail.

  12. Eshu February 7, 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    Richard,
    Sorry if I’ve got the wrong end of the stick.

    Further, people are not punished for not knowing about Jesus rather they are punished for their sin.

    Are you implying that people can avoid this punishment without knowing about Jesus?

  13. Richard February 7, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    Eshu,

    Out side of the Church there is no salvation and the Church is the corpus christi so no, I am not implying that people can avoid this punishment without knowing about Jesus. What I am saying is that the ground of the punishment is not unbelief in Jesus, but rather their sin, so the Canon of Dordt states:

    Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of the curse and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had been his will to leave the entire human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn them on account of their sin. (I.1)

    The whole point is that regardless of whether you hear of Jesus you are still deserving of punishement because you have sinned and that sin deserves punishment.

  14. Eshu February 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    Richard,
    Thanks for the clarification, although I think it’s largely academic. According to you (correct me if I’ve misunderstood again) the result is that there are only two means to avoid eternal torture:

    1. Do not sin. Not very helpful if you’ve never been told what is and is not a sin. Also some people believe every human is born guilty with “original sin” and therefore not able to save themselves in this way however good they are.
    2. Know Jesus. As I mentioned, some people never hear this message so have no chance whatsoever. However good they try to be within their remote culture, it won’t do them any good unless they know the magic words, “Save me Jesus”.

    So my point still stands. This adds up to a system which:
    – Condemns people for ordinary ignorance.
    – Drains the moral value of any action other than worshipping Jesus. It seems that is all God cares about.

    Neither of those two specifically disprove Christianity itself, only certain claims frequently made on behalf of Christianity (that God’s judgement is just and that Christianity, whether true or not, encourages moral behaviour).

    The whole point is that regardless of whether you hear of Jesus you are still deserving of punishement because you have sinned and that sin deserves punishment.

    I already covered my thoughts on this in my first comment, above.

  15. Richard February 9, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    Eshu,

    No God does not “people for ordinary ignorance” rather he condemns them for their sing, i.e. their transgression of the moral law which is written upon their heart.

  16. Richard February 9, 2009 at 7:14 pm #

    insert ‘punish’ between ‘not’ and ‘people’ in the first line :-)

  17. Eshu February 9, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    Richard,

    Presumably the writing on their heart is sufficient for them to avoid being condemned?

  18. Richard February 11, 2009 at 9:12 pm #

    Eshu,

    I know precisely where you are coming from because before I converted I argued along similar lines, but what I am trying to get across to you is that we need to be precise in what we are saying. I trust that is not too condescending!

    The point regarding having the law written upon their heart, is that all people know right from wrong and they know this ‘by nature’ as it were, or from birth.

    If we may take a different track:

    Major premise: Sin deserves punishment.
    Minor premise: All humans sin.
    Conclusion: Therefore all humans deserve punishment.

    This syllogism is true whether you live in 21st century Britain or in the ancient Orient.

  19. Eshu February 11, 2009 at 10:59 pm #

    Richard,

    No, not condescending. It’s good to be clear. However, I am slightly frustrated that you failed to answer my question. You’re not a politician by any chance are you? :-)

    Major premise: Sin deserves punishment.

    How do you figure that?

    Secondly, what is the purpose of this punishment?

    – To reform the person? Apparently not as the punishment is eternal and after life.

    – To act as a deterrent? Also unlikely as not everyone is made aware of this punishment and in any case your second premise states that all humans sin and this does not stop when they hear about their likely end. If it’s a deterrent, it’s not a very good one.

    – As revenge? It certainly looks like revenge, but that would make the punisher petty and evil.

    – As a random act of authority? Again this smacks of petty, might-makes-right thinking.

    Your “different track” is interesting, but the fact that you changed the subject leads me to think that Christianity has no real answer to my questions posed above. I appreciate that you guys don’t represent the whole of Christianity, but I figured you’d know what you were talking about.

    If you once argued along similar lines, what answer did you receive that convinced you?

  20. Richard February 12, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    Eshu,

    (1) The writing on their heart is not sufficient for them to avoid being condemned, but it is enough to justly condemn them. Hence the point regarding having the law written upon their heart, is that all people know right from wrong and they know this ‘by nature’ as it were, or from birth.

    (2) If your employer asks you to do something stipulated in your employment contract and you refuse to act what is the legitimate outcome?

    (3) The reason for this punishment is found in justice. Try this.

  21. Eshu February 20, 2009 at 1:45 pm #

    Hi Richard,

    Sorry for the delay in responding. I finally got around to listening to the sermon to which you linked.

    1. I think I covered this in my comment on Tim’s other post. The point is that God’s punishment is not in practice conditional on anything we do or do not do.

    2. First I would have to have agreed to the contract. Secondly if they asked me to accurately predict next week’s lottery numbers, or become invisible or read their mind, then it would be deemed an unfair contract and therefore unenforceable.

    3. The sermon was interesting but he was basically just saying that God knows everything and made us so He’s inherently right and just. He does not first show that God exists. I agree that in theory an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being could make an excellent judge, except that such a being is logically incoherent and inconsistent with reality.

  22. Emmanuel Obu June 1, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    This message on God’s position about hell shows clearly that anyone who allows himself to end up in hell has himself soley to blame. Thank for making God’s position very clear about hell.

  23. benaiah juma April 27, 2016 at 1:14 pm #

    sin will always be punished. If you don’t like that then stop sinning. let’s start by learning to dress decently.

  24. benaiah juma April 27, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

    sin should be punished for eternity. Sinners are not of God they are of the devil. All CHRIST rejectors deserve to have a home with the devil for eternity.

  25. ben September 23, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

    if Christ is real and just, sin has to be punished. Hand join in hand the wicked will never go unpunished but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered. He or she that is not for Christ is against Christ.

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