It’s common to hear people say that they will never submit to God because of His threats of eternal torture. That is interesting because I have yet to hear someone refer to hell as eternal torment. Torture undoubtedly refers to some type of unmerited experience, where torment could be entirely deserved. The Doctrine of Endless Punishment has nothing to do with eternal torture. If one finds himself in hell, it is a punishment he earned because he rejected his Savior in favor of a logical error. Adhering to a fallacious argument like the argumentum ad baculum, or the Threat of Force fallacy, is unwise because it cannot diminish the reality of hell.
Universalism is the preferred religion of post-moderns as it ignores man’s sinful nature and the threat of hell along with it. Joel Osteen’s brand of Christianity encapsulates this perfectly as sins are regarded as no more than mistakes, and if we have positive vibes, God will shower us with gifts because we deserve it. This “God owes me” mentality is impossibly stupid. How can we have the audacity to demand anything from God? He owes us nothing but wrath, but we feel entitled to His grace. This reasoning reduces God to an instrument that we wield to satisfy our carnal desires.
If we believe that eternal punishment is too mean, what other alternatives does God have? In his commentary on Revelation, Chuck Missler suggests that there are three other options at God’s disposal, all of which would result in something worse than hell.
- God could let the world just continue to exist forever.
On the surface, this seems to be perfectly reasonable. But what about the cruelty and injustice? What about pain and disease? This would go unchecked, and this Garden of Eden would go on and on.
- God could force man into automata.
Can anyone honestly say they would prefer life without free will? We would be nothing more than mere robots carrying out orders. Maybe this would be easier, but would we have meaningful lives? Of course not, but without free will we would never realize it. As a result, God would be forcing us to love Him which runs contrary to His nature.
- He can withdraw Himself.
We might assume that this would look something like number one, but in this case He would not be simply be ignoring His creation. He would be turning His back on it. The world was spoken into existence, and if the Word (revealed as Jesus in John 1:1-5) chooses to withdraw from His creation, we could expect that we would not exist. It is impossible to imagine what it would be like without Him, but I suspect it would be much like it was before Genesis 1.
These are all bad scenarios for man and they all go against God’s nature. From man’s perspective, the best option is an eternal hell. What makes hell so appealing is the fact that God provides a way for us to avoid hell through Jesus Christ. For many, this is preposterous as this would require submission to God. Some find it much easier to impugn God’s character. After all, if we must repent of our sins, we have to acknowledge our depravity.
Image courtesy of Kevin Dooley.