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Would a Loving God Send People to Hell?

HomeChristianity and the BibleWould a Loving God Send People to Hell?

There are two common misconceptions about hell. The first is that a loving God wouldn’t let anyone go there, and the second is that God uses it to punish people. I think that both theories are actually attempts to diminish our view of God.

A loving God would indeed let people go to hell. You see, God decided that we should choose our own eternal destiny. Those who choose to spend eternity with Him will do so, and those who want nothing to do with Him will get their wish as well. Why would God allow those He loves to end up in hell? Let’s think clearly about it: what sort of God would force people to be with Him forever? Not a loving God, to be sure…sounds more like a criminal to me. Those who claim that God wouldn’t send anyone to hell turn Him into a cosmic kidnapper, holding us against our wills for eternity. How ironic: the belief that God is too loving to let us go to hell forces us to believe that God isn’t loving at all!

Hell isn’t for punishment, either…rather, the existence of hell is a sign of respect. If God thinks enough of you to let you choose your eternal destiny, He obviously thinks enough of you to make your decision stick. Only a capricious and cruel God would give us an imaginary choice. That’s not the God of the Bible, to be sure. My God gives you a real choice, not an imaginary or symbolic choice.

So, there it is…another view of hell. Personally, I’m grateful for hell. I don’t like the fact that many will end up there, but I appreciate the fact that it is our free will and our personal choice that makes its existence necessary. Those who wish to have nothing to do with God will be given what they ask for: a place without God. A truly loving God could truly do no less.

Of course, I would be remiss if I passed up this opportunity to encourage you to choose eternal life in heaven with God. Do your homework, ask a lot of questions, and don’t be afraid of the answers. I hope and pray that I’ll see you there!


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Comments

9 responses to “Would a Loving God Send People to Hell?”

  1. vivian says:

    This is really good, do you mind if I use a few points for my blog? I will gladly give your credit.

    • Tony says:

      Vivian:

      Please feel free to quote me, or to steal a few points for your own blog. If you’d like to use the whole thing, please do include a link to the same page on GodWords. =)

  2. vivian says:

    Absolutely! Thank you so much! And yes, I will definitely include a link!! Thank you again! God bless!

  3. Rob says:

    Nowadays, the controversy is not whether or not people go to hell, but rather, what does “hell” actually mean. =)

    • Jenny says:

      I don’t know why anyone would want to go to hell. Isn’t hell a big pit of fire where u burn in pain forever

      • Tony says:

        Jenny:

        Let me recommend that you do a Bible study on Hell. There are different kinds of imagery used to describe Hell, and it’s pretty helpful to have them all in one place. I don’t mean that you should google “what is hell like?” and get a thousand opinions, of course…just that reading what the Bible does, and does not, say about Hell is a very good idea.

  4. Mary N says:

    Hi Tony,
    I was raised with the belief of Hell and there are certainly enough bible passages describing it. My church did a study on Hell Vs Annihilation, which the SDA believe (I am not a SDA member), and the SDA point to bible passages suggesting that. Annihilation is certainly a more comforting belief for our family and friends who have rejected God.
    My question is: Is believing in annihilation rather than Hell affect one’s salvation? Would you consider annihilation a false teaching?

    • Tony says:

      Mary:

      That’s a good question! It’s important that we think carefully about these things.

      1. I do consider annihilation to be a false teaching.
      2. I do not believe that a person getting this one thing wrong will be kept out of Heaven.

      That’s not the whole story, though. There are consequences to what we believe, and to what we teach. Someone may be wrong about Hell but still go to Heaven… but will false teaching about Hell keep someone from trusting God with their life, and so never be saved? Yes, that sort of thing happens all the time. I have a saying. It’s not Scripture, but I believe it’s true:

      Good theology makes it easier to trust God, and bad theology makes it harder to trust God.

      Let’s say (for simplicity) that there are only 10 things we can know about God. When we know all 10, we understand who He is and what He wants, and how much He loves us. Knowing only 9 makes it harder to understand Him, and harder to trust Him. Knowing only 2 makes it even harder, because trust is a matter of evidence. We trust God because He has a track record of faithfulness… but if somebody doesn’t actually KNOW that, they may never trust Him. In this way, what we teach matters a lot. For people who already trust God and are born again, being wrong about some things isn’t a deal-breaker. For people who haven’t trusted God and are not born again, being wrong about some things may actually keep them out of the Kingdom.

      What can we conclude?

      1. Being wrong may not keep us from Heaven.
      2. Being wrong may keep someone else from Heaven.
      3. Therefore, we should do our very best to avoid being wrong.

      We should study the Scriptures… not just to become more like Jesus, but so that others will trust Him as well. When we’re wrong about God, we make it harder for OTHERS to believe… and that may have fatal consequences. This is why false teaching is such a big deal in the New Testament. False teachers are to be silenced, so they won’t lead people astray. They’re to be taught sound doctrine, so they can be restored. They’re to be countered publicly, so those who have been misled will not be lost.

      Annihilation sounds great, but it’s really not. I don’t believe that being wrong about Hell will automatically keep any individual out of Heaven, but I do believe that false teaching about Hell may indeed keep some individuals from being born again. Here’s something I’ve found to be true and reliable:

      People who focus on secondary issues AND get them wrong are often the exact same people who get the primary issues wrong. When someone “majors in the minors,” that’s usually a sign of a larger problem. You mentioned Seventh-Day Adventists. With respect, they tend to major in the minors. They spend a lot of time being concerned about dietary restrictions, and about proper sabbath-keeping, and about exactly how the end times is going to happen. This results in serious problems for many. You might spend a few minutes reading about my experiences with Seventh-Day Adventists. I hope you can see that I really, really love my Adventist friends… and that while some are undoubtedly born again, we have good reasons to be concerned for their salvation.

      Let me know if you have any more questions, Mary. Thanks!

  5. Mary N says:

    Thanks Tony,
    I see what you’re saying about bad theology and possible consequences. Your comment was helpful and I really appreciate GodWords website and your commitment to the truth. I did read your article about your experiences with Seventh-Day Adventists. Thanks again.

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