Here’s the scoop: A blogger presents his views on Christians and the idea of Hell. In that presentation, he says this about Christians,
“(they have) their signs that insinuate that God is so unloving and unmerciful that He will consign billions of people there for an infinite time because of their finite sins after He made the world in such a way that they mostly cannot realistically be expected to fulfill His supposed requirements for escaping that place where it is “hotter”…not cool…peace…”
Now this is what is called in Rhetoric a ‘Straw Man’. The Straw Man fallacy is committed when a person simply ignores someone’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated or misrepresented version of that position. This is so easy to do with Christian doctrine, because some nut somewhere believes or teaches just about anything you can imagine. In this case, the writer above supposes that all Christians, or the majority, believe that hell was created by God for people who cannot realistically live up to his expectations. Therefore, since this is inconsistent with the idea of a Loving God, it cannot be true. Therefore, hell cannot be true. This is called a straw man.
But that view of Hell is not the predominant position of Protestant Christianity and never has been. That may be the view of a few snake-handling preachers in the backwoods, but I have traveled to many parts of our fair land and have only once heard this view taught. Let’s put this straw man to the test with a real argument.
The Bible never teaches that God created Hell. Nor does it teach that God consigns people there arbitrarily or capriciously. Hell is simply existence without God. Separation from God. God created a world where man could live without sin and have perfect communion with God. Even after sinning, Mankind could still seek after God and desire to know Him. Because sin has the effect of confusing the spirit, God sent many people to tell us about Him. Then He came Himself in bodily form (Jesus) to show us His love. He removed the effects of sin from us and gave us full access to His Spirit living inside our spirits. We have access to God forever if we choose.
Because freedom of choice is the greatest gift God gives us…a gift He will never take back…God cannot force people to be in His Presence. To be in Heaven, in God’s Holy Presence, would be torture to anyone whose sins were not taken away. God offers to take them away, but some people don’t want that. So God gives them another choice. Our spirits were created to be eternal, like God is. He will not take that away either. So if we don’t want to be with him, we are choosing to be alone…forever. That is what Hell is. The burning is simply that knowledge that we could have had so much more and never will. Hell can be, and is, experienced on this earth before people die.
When those who don’t believe in God throw up arguments, make sure they aren’t erecting a Straw Man before you start to answer. You may be defending something that has no substance.