I’m having an interesting conversation with a fellow blogger about hell and what it means and whether a God that created a place like hell could even be considered benevolent. In response to one of my comments, he directed me to another blog post of his that deals with this subject.
So I’m going to tackle it head on and respond through this post.
He starts off with:
A skeptical friend of mine recently told me he believes that Jesus offers the world an immoral “love me or die” ultimatum regarding Hell, a scripturally inaccurate claim that misrepresents both the true nature of God and the love God showed for us.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
– Romans 5:8
a) I never asked for this sacrifice.
b) I think it would be unethical of me to accept a blood sacrifice on my behalf.
c) This deity required of himself that he would need this sacrifice, therefore it’s at fault for needing a blood sacrifice to forgive. It makes the rules, after all. At least according to most Christians. Maybe it should learn to forgive without needing a horrific torture and death to achieve it?
Since the God of the Bible is all about love, I would reword “love me or die” to the more accurate “chose to love me as I love you, chose to honor me, worship me, and receive my free gift of salvation, or chose to live out your eternity forever separated from all that is good”.
a) I’ll take the rewording and run with it – I would never dare tell someone that they should choose to love me as I love them. I definitely wouldn’t tell them to worship me.
b) It’s not a free gift if you must do something before getting it. That’s the opposite of ‘free’.
c) Love me as I love you with the caveat of being tortured if you don’t is not a love worth having. Honestly, that’s not love at all. That’s a threat.
Anyway, denying Hell, not liking the idea of Hell, or objecting to Hell because you believe you are more loving and moral than God doesn’t mean that Hell isn’t real and real people don’t end up there in accordance with God’s perfect justice.
a) You have yet to demonstrate evidence of hell even existing.
b) True, not believing it doesn’t exist doesn’t make it so it doesn’t, but if it does as you describe it, then hell would be a contradiction of your ‘benevolent’ God. Nothing benevolent (or all-good) could ever consider creating a place of endless torture.
c) I think your idea of ‘perfect justice’ and mine are very, very different. The endless torture of a human being should never be considered perfect justice in my opinion.
A real Hell that exists regardless of what anyone thinks.
Hell was originally created for Satan and his angels and will one day be the permanent eternal residence of those who chose to join Satan because of their willful rejection of God.
a) Created by your God to house a creature He would have created with the perfect knowledge of what would happen.
b) Creating an evil being again isn’t the sign of a benevolent God.
c) Atheists don’t choose to join Satan. They don’t believe in him. Just like they don’t believe in your God.
d) You don’t have to willfully reject what isn’t proven to be true. Your book is contradictory. The nature of your God (according to its supposed book) is contradictory. And there is no evidence for your God.
Call me surprised when some people don’t believe in it. Your God didn’t see that coming?
Could you accept, have faith in, have trust in, and worship a God who wanted so desperately for people to avoid Hell He became a human, suffered at the hands of humans, and allowed himself to be murdered by humans, all so that His death could pay for the debt of your sins?
Would you agree that a God who would do that is extremely loving and worthy of praise?
a) No, I think it’s a preposterous story that is obviously man-made. If a deity exists it wouldn’t need to torture or kill anything to forgive. If it’s all-powerful, it is by definition in its power to do ANYTHING, including forgive people withoput needing a payment.
I would think a God that needed to do these things as being inferior, backwards, barbaric and worthy of contempt. Honestly.
But, if they do reject it, what is God supposed to do? Does the almighty, who can do no wrong, have any choice other than to judge?
It has plenty of choices actually. It could allow them into heaven. It could provide evidence of its existence. It could be consistent. It could show itself. It can literally do anything and the only thing you can come up with is you either need to believe in this invisible being or it must judge you and throw you in a lake of fire for eternity? Really? That’s the best you can come up with? It had NO OTHER alternative?
Sins are not only wrong, they are crimes committed against an infinite and holy being that require infinite and eternal punishment that is levied against all, uniformly, justly, and without fail.
The more you talk, the more malevolent your God seems.
And you have yet to show how such a thing is just or perfect.
If you understand the “love me or die” ultimatum as it actually is, it becomes much easier to accept the fact that people, not God, are the ones who chose their eternal destiny.
Actually, no. If your God is indeed all knowing, it knew in advance what you would choose and it would also know exactly what it would take to convince you of its existence. Since it’s all powerful, it can provide whatever it would take without any hardship to itself.
Bad news is that when you leave your earthly life of choosing to separate yourself from God behind, He will not violate your free will and will, just as you wish, allow you to live out your eternity in the state, and place,YOU CHOSE.
So I can live out my afterlife in Disney World?
The only men who will suffer in eternal torment are those who chose to reject God and all His goodness.
In other words, “love your version of truth more than God’s objective truth and die.”
Guess not. Still torture. Guess you don’t get to choose after all.
Honestly, I don’t know how people can read stuff like this about hell and not see the millions of holes in the story, the contradictions and the bald faced nasty humanity shining through in it. This isn’t the plan of a benevolent deity. It’s the yearnings of charlatans and small, brutish, mean people.
Thankfully, there is no reason to believe any of it.