People usually ask, “how could a good and loving God send people to hell?” Wrong question. Ask again. The right question is this: how could a loving person send themself to hell? Does that sound strange? Good. It’s meant to. We need a shift in perspective to understand the dynamic between God and man.
Let’s first acknowledge that this is a difficult topic. At the same time, let’s try to be rational adults about discussing it. Most religious belief systems hold that there are only two destinations after death – heaven or hell. If one’s not headed to heaven, he must be headed to hell. We could venture to examine each belief system and see what they have to say about heaven and hell. Not now.
If Christianity is true, it’s irrelevant what other belief systems say since they are all mutually exclusive with Christianity, and therefore, must be inaccurate. I won’t belabor the point here since this entire blog is dedicated to providing reasons why Christianity is the one worldview that makes the most sense of reality. Our particular emphasis here will be to address the objection to Christianity from the perceived injustice of hell. What I will demonstrate is that, as a form of disparagement, complaining that God cannot both be loving and just is nonsensical.
It is true; God establishes the parameters of entry to heaven. It makes sense. It is his domain. He decides who enters. Do we not establish the rules of our own household? God is the King of his Kingdom. But God is also gracious. He tells us that if we knock with the right heart of actually wanting to be in his house, he will open the door. What kind of heart do we need to have? Remorseful. Loving. Recognizing him as king. Accepting his forgiveness. Why do we need to ask for forgiveness? Because we’ve all sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.
Has God Determined to Send People to Hell? Are Loving People Required to Choose Hell?
It seems to me that some people are momentarily suspending their free will and receding into a perspective that they have no power or control over where they go. When people say that ‘God sends people to hell’ they are undermining their own human responsibility. You and I have the power to decide where we ultimately go. Yes, really! God loves us and wants us to enter his kingdom but he will not force people into his kingdom. What is the preferable alternative for these people who object? Should the king leave his kingdom and grab everyone outside by their hands and drag them into his kingdom against their will? God wants a loving relationship. Could a loving relationship be attained by dragging people away against their will? No way! Crazy! Love demands free will. Otherwise, it’s not “love.” We have the power to decide. We can’t take the easy way out by blaming God for not letting people enter his Kingdom when we decide against his love and ourselves choose hell over heaven.
God’s Love and Justice Are Not at Odds
Some may claim that God cannot be all good and all just. What does it mean to love? Unselfishly? It means to want what is best for the object of your love. Well, if God created us, he knows our nature far better than we know it ourselves. And if he wants what is best for us, even if we don’t want that ourselves, it’s still what is best for us given that God ordered reality in such a manner. The rules of reality don’t change because we do not want them. We want to live a certain way. If that way is bad for us, our desires won’t change God’s mind. The parameters of living determine the objective moral laws and duties by which, when lived consistently, we will have the best possible life with the greatest of results. When we have objective moral laws, we must have rules surrounding human responsibility of interacting with one another as well as our worship of God in acknowledgment of his majesty. When those laws are broken, justice must be exacted.A king who establishes rules and cannot enforce those rules or judge those who break them is not a king at all. Click To Tweet
God is a thousand times a king. His justice is perfect and he cannot refuse to judge the wrongs committed by people against people or those committed against him. But God is also loving, wanting what is best for his creatures. There is no real conflict between love and justice. In fact, it can be argued that justice cannot even exist without love.
You see, in the end, it is not God who sends people to hell. Our journey there is not determined; we get to choose. But how could a loving
God person send people themself to hell?