A Loving & Gracious God – And Hell

I will be posting some of the recent thoughts and questions I’ve put up on Facebook over the last few weeks.  Here’s the first one:

I have been wrestling with Christianity for quite some time now. I took a lengthy “break” from church for a little over 3 years. Now that we are in TX, we have started attending a small one here. But, I am very much still wresting with it all. One thing that’s really tough for me is God’s love/grace and hell.

I know this topic is nothing new whatsoever.  I know there are probably plenty of resources out there that cover this, and perhaps I’ll get to one or more of them, but as of right now, I haven’t read anything on it yet. Feel free to provide suggested readings, but I am more interested in your thoughts.

Would be interested to hear your thoughts on this:

A passage for reference: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Thessalonians+1%3A3-9&version=ESV

I am really having a tough time being OK with the Bible saying things like that. On one hand, we have a fatherly figure (God) who loves his children and wants the best for them. On the flip side, we are born into a sinful nature, told the path is very narrow and challenging, and expected to do our best and accept it all or we’ll burn in hell for eternity. Though we aren’t to judge others, it does seem like the vast majority of people on earth will burn in hell according to the Bible.

I am a father of 3 children. I struggle with feeling like I don’t like my oldest son at times because of his craziness, disobedience, loudness, etc. I never feel good about it though. I don’t want to feel that way, and I don’t think I should. I discipline my children, but it’s always to help them (at least it should be). I would never want to send any of my children to eternal destruction, even if they lived a life of disobedience to me. I don’t see how that is loving at all. There are certain things in life that I would be able to say they deserved, but not eternal destruction.

Could a loving and gracious God really do that? To ultimately say “If you don’t believe (which I’ve made it ridiculously difficult to do and I give you no actual proof or evidence in me – so I’m leaving you to need to make a massive leap of faith) then I’ll send you to burn in hell.” (And, some people believe that it’s not even your choice ultimately, but that God needs to elect you).

It just seems like selective grace based on your behavior and choices and I don’t see how that aligns with a loving and gracious creator of all humans.

Now I recognize that there are a couple of very popular ways to address this:

1.) God is mysterious in his ways and we can’t understand them: I get that there are things we can’t understand, but that shouldn’t ever be the easy way out. We need to come to terms with this stuff and not just pick from the “God and Bible Buffet” of the things we like and want to think about. It isn’t always fair to attribute the things we like about God to his being good and the things we don’t to his being mysterious.

2.) We all deserve hell anyway, so it’s not unfair that some go to heaven and many don’t because those that go to hell are only getting what they deserve. So thank God all the more, as a believer, by being unfair to me and granting me eternal life in heaven: God intentionally created us, and created the world to be like this. Why would a loving father create children who all deserve hell, then say he’s gracious and loving because he only saves a few?


3 thoughts on “A Loving & Gracious God – And Hell

  1. There is one problem with your second point: “Why would a loving father create children……?” We don’t become God’s children through “creation.” We become children of God when we surrender our lives to Jesus. At that point, we become God’s children. Therefore, God will not send any of His children to hell. Those who have rejected Christ will be sent to the place that was only prepared for the devil and his angels.

  2. The question seems to come down to God’s heart toward humanity. I have a question to throw into the mix. Where is his heart toward humanity revealed most clearly? What are your thoughts?

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