Take Away Hell and It’s All Good…Right?

hell

“A good and loving god wouldn’t send anyone to Hell.” This is a common objection raised by opponents of Christianity and even some Christians. The implication is that the Christian God, if He exists, isn’t good and loving since He sends some people to Hell. Therefore, even if He exists, He isn’t worthy of worship. So, the general objection is: God does X, and X is not good and loving; therefore, God is not good and loving.” Remember this formula, because I want to look at it again in a moment.

Rather than start by pointing out the problems with this objection, I would rather take it at face value and see where it leads me. If God sends people to Hell, then He is not good and loving. Okay, let’s work with that. Now, before we dive into the deep end, please understand that I am working with this objection and only this objection here. I understand that there are a lot of related issues, but I do not have space to address them all in this space. Furthermore, I am taking it on its own terms, which requires at least the possibility that God exists (e.g. If God exists then…). Otherwise, the objection is just nonsense–akin to saying, “The tooth fairy is a jerk because she is always stealing children’s teeth.” With that preface, here is my train of thought.

What if God didn’t send people to Hell? Presumably that would be good and loving, and eliminate the problem. For the moment, ignore everything that is wrapped up in that question, such as the biblical teaching on Hell, the historical Christian teachings on Hell etc. Dump your brain for a second and try to imagine an alternate universe where God exists and human beings exist but God does not send any of them to Hell (which is a noun that doesn’t exist in this universe, so we will just say that God doesn’t punish anyone). Would that be a world where no one calls God’s goodness and love into question? I don’t think so.

The way I see it, there are only a couple of ways that such a universe could exist (where both God and humans). Either God could deprive humans of moral freedom (which minimally allows for the possibility of evil), or He could simply refrain from punishing evil (e.g. sending people to Hell). The former hardly seems worth discussing. Even so, if it were possible for even one man from our universe to be transported to that alternate plane, inhabited entirely by fleshly automatons, I do not imagine that he would necessarily judge it better than our own. Superficially better? Perhaps. But it would also be a world without the capacity for love. After all, love that is programmed or forced is not love. My mind can barely begin to conceive of just how empty, and frankly, not good, such an existence would seem for an observer who has experienced freedom and love. He would certainly wonder how a good and loving God could create a world where human beings exist without the ability to give and receive love. Would he not conclude that “God does X, and X is not good and loving; therefore, God is not good and loving,” where X equals: “creates humans without freedom to love”?

The other option, and this seems to be the one that opponents of Christianity favor, is that God would simply refrain from punishing evil. Once again, do a brain dump and try to imagine an alternate universe where God exists and human beings are free to do evil, but do not face divine punishment. Would everyone in that world agree that God is good and loving? What about the person whose loved ones were brutally murdered? There can be no doubt that they would object to God’s goodness in precisely the same way as do people in our world–“God does X, and X is not good and loving; therefore, God is not good and loving.” The only difference is that in this case, X is “refrains from punishing evil.” It is exactly the opposite of the objection raised in our world. God is not good and loving because He does not punish evil (e.g. send people to Hell). How can this be? It seems that God is, and forgive the pun, damned if He does and damned if He doesn’t. Follow the link to finish reading the article>>>http://www.becauseitstrue.com/2/post/2014/02/take-away-hell-and-its-all-goodright.html

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I am a husband and father. I teach apologetics, theology, and hermeneutics at a private Christian high school. I run the apologetics website becauseitstrue.com. I am also the chapter director of Ratio Christi at the University of Georgia.

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