Monday, February 25, 2013

Hell In The Presence Of A Loving God

            One of the most difficult questions for me to answer is, “Why God has put me in a predicament of having to see my loved ones in hell because of their unbelief in Christ?” This is an honest question of any Christian whose friends or relatives are yet to believe in Christ. A variant of this question is “why would God not reveal Himself in a way that people believe in Christ?” The ball seems to be in God’s court!

            When asked why he remained an atheist, Bertrand Russell claimed God did not give him adequate evidence to be a theist. Is this a fact? Has God not given adequate evidence to many? The Holy Bible refutes this claim by emphasizing that men suppress truth, which God has made plain to all (Romans 1:19-20; Cf John 3:16-21). The Bible unapologetically places the ball in man’s court!

            To grasp and accept the concept of hell is indeed difficult. How often do we read or view news related to brokenness and death to feel miserable and nauseated? Are we not immeasurably broken when someone close to us is ill or when our loved one dies? We so love our near and dear that we do not want to see them hurt in any way. This is possibly one of the many reasons why we find the concept of hell difficult to digest, and sometimes we even refuse to accept its reality. We so LOVE our friends and relatives that we do not want any harm upon them. 

            If we cannot bear to see our loved ones suffer now for a certain period of time, then it is legitimate for us to suffer more while imagining the possibility of them suffering in hell unto eternity. At the core of our pain is our deep love for our near and dear. Our love and concern for our loved ones’ eternal destiny seems legitimate! However, the dilemma begins now.

            Our dilemma is to comprehend the painful reality of hell under the overarching umbrella of God’s love. We believe a loving God would not send HIS children, even under the pretext of unbelief, to eternal torment. How would a loving parent gift his child with prolonged suffering? Would the parent not do all within his means to prevent this horrendous occurrence? This is our painful dilemma. In other words, we question the credibility of God’s love with respect to hell.

            True love respects and educates, but never enslaves. A parent who truly loves his child will educate him of good and evil. A parent will do “everything” within his power and will to stop the child from pursuing evil, but that “everything” excludes enslaving his child. If a child is bent on pursuing the path of evil, the parent will choose preventive actions, but will never imprison the child into solitary confinement. The circumstantially handicapped parent may opt to allow the child to have his way; this is the respect the parent shows to the disobedient child’s cognizant volition. A defeated and emotionally fatigued parent will allow the child to continue in willful disobedience. Nevertheless, the parents’ love for the child will never diminish even if the child willfully rebels to disobey.

            The father of the prodigal son not only heeds to the property share request of the son, but he goes a step further by not preventing his son from departing to a distant country with his share of wealth (Luke 15:12-13). The son willfully disobeys the loving father, and departs. The loving father expectantly longs for his son’s return and when he does return, the father rushes to welcome the son even before he repents. This is father’s love. A parent’s love will never cease and always hope for the best, but at the same time, a parent’s love will respect the child’s conscious decision. 

            Was it not C.S Lewis who opined that there are two groups of people in this world of which one group would acknowledge and believe in Christ, bend their knees to HIM and say ‘Your will be done,’ and God would have this group living with HIM unto eternity (in heaven). To the other group who refuse to acknowledge and believe in Christ and bend their knees to God, HE will say ‘your will be done’ and grant them their wish to be away from HIM (in hell). God keeps those who desire to be with HIM, but respects and allows those who reject HIM to be away from HIM. This is true love – a love that provides all, but refuses to enslave. (Please remember the Bible’s proclamation that God has given mankind enough evidence to believe in HIM.)

            Let’s travel back to the creation account in Genesis. God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of it (Genesis 2:9, 16-17). Even though it was a command, Adam and Eve were given the freedom to accept or reject God’s command. Thus God exhibited true love, and HE desires mankind to love HIM. True love can only exist in the conscious reality of freedom. Freedom to accept or reject the lover is intrinsic in true love. Therefore, God’s love for mankind warrants the presence of heaven and hell.

            God’s justice can also be questioned with respect to hell. How can a just God eternally punish HIS children for the sin of unbelief committed during the specific period of time of their existence in this world? Isn’t the eternal punishment disproportionate to the sin committed in time? This is another painful predicament we struggle with.

            Human life was designed to be with God unto eternity through mutual love. Sin separated man and God. God, in HIS foreknowledge, designed a way out of this predicament through the one time sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. HE has also done everything for mankind to believe in HIM, so mankind will be without excuse against God. When man refuses to believe in Christ and thereby rejects God, God simply allows man to be away from HIM unto eternity. In other words, the creational intent is an eternal fellowship with God or an eternal banishment from God. Mankind makes the choice, and God honors that choice. This is Justice. Therefore, God’s justice warrants heaven and hell.

P.S: One can always argue that God in HIS perfection, omniscience and omnipotence, could have created a better world where none go to hell. But eminent philosophers have debated the concept of the “best of all possible worlds,” so if you are interested in indulging in heavy reading, then please visit these links and dig deep thereafter ( and's_free_will_defense). 


Sarah Bhuyan said...

Hi all,

Bible says, that "God has set eternity in the hearts of men;"
In that case God is not in the business of hide and seek game. He has done all that he has to reveal himself. If we truly seek him, he will make it possible for us to see him./know him. God is fathful and hence we can trust him.

In true love, there is freedom, may it be parents/children or husband/wife, or among friends. We do not control each other or manipulate each other..It is painful to see our loved ones going to destruction, yet love withdraws to respect the other. (Application point.)

Hosea and gomer is God's demo of true love yet it defines love, freedom, emotions, justice however painful as it may come across.

We need to move from looking at things from our point of view to God's point of view. Love so amazing, so pure ....


Raj Richard said...

Sarah, In "Love so amazing, so pure...," you have wonderfully implied our existential struggle - 'impurity' trying to understand 'purity,' and in the process being dogmatic about "purity's impurity," which is nothing but an implosion (self-destruction). Thanks so much. God bless.

தருமி said...

// To the other group who refuse to acknowledge and believe in Christ and bend their knees to God, HE will say ‘your will be done’ and grant them their wish to be away from HIM (in hell).//

This sort of BLIND FAITH sounds, sorry to say Raj, so very painful and very much irritating to any non-xtian. NO GOD can punish someone who does not know and accept him.

You make your god lousier than a politician.

Raj Richard said...

No Sir, this is not a blind faith.

God is NOT justified to make that statement IF HE had not done enough for man to know and believe HIM. BUt God has indeed done enough for man to know and believe HIM. So by not believing, it is the man who uses his freewill to deny God's presence against all rational evidences, which are in the public domain. So the burden of proof - to deny God or posit the nonexistence of God - is upon man.

Thank you for taking time off to share your thoughts.

தருமி said...

in case i ask you WHICH god you are talking about!

well... you are conditioned to one religion and its concept. anyway that is not the END.

Raj Richard said...

God is a maximally great being, so there is only one God. So am referring to this God. The Bible also refers to this God. Thanks for asking.