Eternal Hell: Supreme Justice or Evil Judge?
Before I continue, I must admit that I am not at all convinced that God simply casts souls into hell "because they do not or cannot or will not accept certain religious beliefs." Instead, I find it beneficial to discuss what modern people cringe at and consider a quaint anachronism: sin. To do that, look no further than to Research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, D.A. Carson. Carson writes,
"Picture God in the beginning of creation with a man an d woman made in his image. They wake up in the morning and think about God. They love him truly. They delight to do what he wants; it's their whole pleasure. They're rightly related to each other.
"Then, with the entrance of sin and rebellion into the world, these image bearers begin to think that they are at the center of the universe. Not literally, but that's the way they think. And that's the way we think. All the things we call 'social pathologies' - war, rape, bitterness, nurtured envies, secret jealousies, pride, inferiority complexes - are bound up in the first instance with the fact that we're not rightly related with God. The consequence is that people get hurt.
"From God's persepective, that is shockingly disgusting. So what should God do about it? If he says, "Well, I don't give a rip,' he's saying that evil doesn't matter to him. It's a bit like saying, "Oh yeah, the Holocost - I don't care/" Wouldn't we be shocked if we thought God didn't have moral judgements on such matters?
"But in principle, if he's the sort of God who has moral judgements on those matters, he's got to have moral justments on this huge matter of all these divine image bearers shaking their puny fists at his face and singing with Frank Sinatra, 'I did it my way.' That's the real nature of sin.
"Having said that, hell is not a place where people are consigned because they were pretty good blokes but just didn't believe the right stuff. They're consigned there, first and foremost, because they defy their Maker and want to be at the center of the universe. Hell is not filled with people who have already repented, only God isnt gently enough or good enough to let them out. It's filled with people who, for all eternity, still want to be at the center of the universe and who persist in their God-defying rebellion.
"What is God to do? If he says it doesnt' matter to him, God is no longer a God to be admired. He's either amoral or psitively creepy. For him to act in any other way in the face of such blatant defiance would be to reduce God himself.
"...[If] God took his hands off this fallen world so that there were no restraint on human wickedness, we would make hell. Thus if you allow a whole lot of sinners to live somewhere in a confined place where they're not doing damage to anyone but themselves, what do you get but hell? There's a sense in which they're doing it to themselves, and it's what they want because they still don't repent. One of the things that the Bible does insist is that in the end not only will justice be done, but justice will be seen to be done, so that every mouth will be stopped."
--Quote [Modified] and used from The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel, chapter 9, section 2
Cross-blogged at Apologia Christi