By Dix Winston*
Speaking to journalist and friend, Eugenio Scafari, the Pope reportedly said of those dying without Christ (or according to Roman Catholic Theology in a state of mortal sin): “They are not punished. Those who repent obtain God’s forgiveness and take their place among the ranks of those who contemplate him, but those who do not repent and cannot be forgiven disappear. A hell doesn’t exist, the disappearance of sinning souls exists.”
Understandably Hell is a horrible fate. But there are 1five good reasons to believe in Hell.
First, Hell is taught in the Bible. Paul said, “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess 1:6-9).
Second, justice demands a Hell. If there is no Hell, some people get away with murder (even millions of them) never appearing before the Bar of God. There must be some accounting for evil done. If there is no Hell, neither Hitler, Stalin nor Mao were brought to justice. If there is no Hell, then we live in an unjust universe. Doing the crime and not paying the time is not justice! Either one accepts Christ’s payment or you suffer the consequences. But skipping on the bill is not an option in a just universe.
Third, God’s love demands a Hell. Forced love is not love—it is something else. God is a loving God, (1 John 4:16). Love, even God’s love, is sometimes unrequited. Contrary to Calvinism, He does not force Himself on us. C. S Lewis, notes, “the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of his scheme forbids him to use. Merely to override a human will…would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo” (C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, p. 38).
Hell is one of the most loving things God does. He invites all to His heaven, but will not force them into it.
Fourth, human dignity demands Hell. Matthew 23:37 is a tragic verse, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matthew 23:37). Again, contrary to Calvinism, there is a choice. Dr. Geisler points out, “God cannot force free creatures to be reformed. Force reformation is worse than punishment; it is cruel and inhuman. At least punishment respects the freedom and dignity of the person” (Dr Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics, p. 311). Hell honors human dignity by allowing those in it a damned decision.
Fifth, God’s sovereignty demands Hell. There are only two places that are eternal, one is heaven and the other is the Lake of Fire. God will not allow evil to pollute His heaven so he sequesters it in Hell.
Thank God for Hell!
1 I am grateful to Dr. Norman Geisler who first taught me these reasons during my D.Min program at Southern Evangelical Seminary.
*Dr. Dix Winston is a guest blogger. He is pastor of Crosspoint Community Church, in Centennial, CO.