The Reason for God – Part 6

Chapter 5 of Keller’s book is titled, “How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell.”  This is an excellent chapter and really helps to understand this complex question.

 The following are some quotes from the chapter (pp68-83):

  • In our culture, divine judgment is one of Christianity’s most offensive doctrines.
  • It seems to our minds unfair, therefore, that we should determine that it is right to have sex outside of marriage and later discover that there is a God who is going to punish us for that.  We believe so deeply in our personal rights in this realm that the every idea of a divine Judgment Day seems impossible.
  • Taking on a question from a skeptic, Keller asks: “How can a God of love be also a God filled with wrath and anger?  If he is loving and perfect, he should forgive and accept everyone.  He shouldn’t get angry.”  He then goes on to respond:
    • If you love a person and you see someone ruining them-even they themselves-you get angry.
    • The Bible says that God’s wrath flows from his love and delight in his creation.  He is angry at evil and injustice because it is destroying its peace and integrity.
    • If I don’t believe that there is a God who will eventually put all things right, I will take take up the sword and will be sucked into the endless vortex of retaliation.  Only if I am sure that there’s a God who will right all wrongs and settle all accounts perfectly do I have the power to refrain.
  • Keller next takes on another question, “The Bible speaks of eternal punishment.  How does that fit with the love of God?  I cannot reconcile even the idea of hell with a loving God.”  He then responds:
    • We know how selfishness and self-absorption leads to piercing bitterness, nauseating envy, paralyzing anxiety, paranoid thoughts, and the mental denials and distortions that accompany them.  Now ask the question: “What if when we die we don’t end, but spiritually our life extends on into eternity?”  Hell, then, is the trajectory of a soul, living a self-absorbed, self-centered life, going on and on forever.
    • In short, hell is simply one’s freely chosen identity apart from God on a trajectory into infinity.
    • All God does in the end with people is give them what they most want, including freedom from himself.  What could be more fair than that?
  • I must conclude that the source of the idea that God is Love is the Bible itself.  And the Bible tells us that the God of love is also a God of judgement who will put all things in the world to rights in the end.
  • The belief in a God of pure love–who accepts everyone and judges no one–is a powerful act of faith.  Not only is there no evidence for it in the natural order, but there is almost no historical, religious textual support for it outside of Christianity.  The more one looks at it, the less justified it appears.

~ by toddbumgarner on March 24, 2008 6:08 am.

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