Why Would God Send Good People to Hell?

I’ve been blogging recently on the existence and nature of Hell and, unsurprisingly, I’ve received tremendous response from Christians and non-Christians alike (much of it hostile). The topic polarizes believers and unbelievers. Many Christians struggle to correlate God’s mercy with a place of permanent justice, while others prefer to believe God would annihilate rebellious souls rather than assign them to Hell eternally. Non-believers often point to the apparent unfairness of God related to those who either reject Jesus or haven’t heard of Him. After all, there are millions of good people in the world who are not Christians. Is it fair for God to penalize people who are otherwise good? A good God would not send good people to Hell, would He?

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There’s a Difference Between Evidence and Proof

Several years ago I presented a talk at the Apologetics Canada Conference in which I examined the reaction Bart Ehrman had related to the textual variants he found in the Biblical text. As he pursued his education over the years and poured over the manuscripts of the Bible, he evaluated the evidence and eventually decided that Christianity was false. Ehrman is clearly a very smart man, raised in the Church and well educated:

Bart Ehrman
Studied at Moody Bible Institute
Graduated from Wheaton College
Received his PhD and MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary
Former President of Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical Literature

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Why Make the Case for Christianity, If God Is in Control?

I’ve written a Christian apologetics book that makes the case for making the case. I argue that Christians ought to embrace a more evidential, thoughtful faith and accept their duty to become Christian case-makers. Many people, after reading the book and thinking about this call to become better case makers, have asked, “If God calls His chosen, can’t He achieve this without any case-making effort on our part?” I also pondered this question as a new Christian, and I think the following analogy is helpful, although certainly imperfect.

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God's Will Is An Industry

 

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps (Proverbs 16:9)

God’s will is an industry. If you don’t believe me, do an Amazon search for the term, “God’s Will” and see how many hits you get. It’s around 334,000.  The reason for this is that Christian publishers know that God’s will sells. Big.

And the reason that God’s will sells is that it is often less about God and all about us. Whom shall I marry, will I get the mortgage modification, and should I move to France and become a potato farmer?

Like many of you, I am in the God’s will business. 40% of the conversations I have revolve around helping people sort out their future. The other 60% is a mix of sin management, past guilt issues and the joys and sorrows of this life.

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Scratching Where They Itch?

One of the most troubling things I see when I look at contemporary Christianity is the mentality that the church should fashion itself according to the needs and wants of the “audience.” It’s an idea that grew out of the evangelical church growth and seeker movements and is practically an epidemic today. Almost every evangelical church these days is to some extent thinking in terms of what the audience wants and how churches can provide them with a desirable product. It’s unseemly, to be sure, but it’s just a symptom of the consumerist culture we live in. Presumably, it’s how things must be done. Whatever else you might say about a product you’re trying to sell, the one thing you know for sure is this: the audience is sovereign.

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The Olympics and Sovereignty

The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong…but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11, NIV)

Don’t know if you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, but let me say this about it: it may be the single greatest argument ever for the sovereignty of God. If you want a shortcut to what I mean, just read the last chapter, where Gladwell describes his own life experience. He’s not a God guy that I can tell, so he attributes things to right-place-at-the-right-time explanations, but layer in what you know about the God of Scripture, and you’ll be blown away (unless you spend lots of time thinking about this stuff already).

Or you can do this: Start watching the Winter Olympics.

If these Olympics are teaching me anything, it’s that the best you can do is give yourself a chance. The rest is, as some still dare to say, “up to God.”

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