You Didn’t Really Mean That, Did You?- Answering the Hell Question, Part 1

October 9, 2008

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” -Matthew 25.41

I’m sure that anyone who’s been a Christian for any time has either asked or been asked the question, “How could a good/loving God send someone to hell?” I have heard this question numerous times, as well as listened to a number of sermons concerning it, and have always had a reply in my mind which I believe is true to Scriptures. However, I recently received an email asking if I could prepare a response to this question that the emailer could share with some one in their Bible study who asked, and so for the first time I wrote down an extensive handling of this query. Since it seemed appropriate I have decided to share my reply here as well, and so over the course of the next four posts I will be answering the question:

How can a good/loving God send someone to hell?

The first thing we must do in approaching the question of how could a good/loving God send people to hell is to realize that there are actually two questions being asked here. The first question, which I believe is the easier one to deal with, is “Does hell exist?” This can be seen by the statement “I don’t see how a loving God could send people to hell, therefore hell must not exist.” The second question is “Won’t God just eventually save everyone?” This is attached to the statement “Hell does exist, but I don’t see how a loving God could send people there, therefore he doesn’t (or at least not forever).” It is these two questions that I will address.

One comment, technically there is a third question, that being “Is God good/loving?” But, in the context of a Christian questioner, I do not believe we can even ponder this question. In either context we get both a contradiction in the Bible and a God who is no god at all. If God is not good then he cannot be God because God is the creator of all, he determines what is good and what is evil. There is not a morality that exists outside of God since if he were subject to something outside of him then he could not be God. This also would contradict 1 John 1.5, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” If God were not loving we again have the same problem since what is loving is derived exclusively from the character of God and for him not to be loving would be a contradiction of 1 John 4.8, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” Thus, we cannot allow for this question to be a Christian objection to hell.